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Advisory on harassment act adopted by unlicensed moneylenders using unsuspecting persons or businesses

The Police warns members of public with its observation of the prevalence of several forms of harassment acts adopted by unlicensed moneylenders (UMLs), generally involve getting unsuspecting person(s) or businesses to harass debtors.

The police said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (18 December) that on some cases, potential borrowers would be directed to a given address belonging to a debtor, where they would be instructed to undertake several forms of harassment such as attempting to collect debts owed to the UML.

There were also instances where businesses were directed to these addresses when none of the house occupants had engaged their services.

In other cases, it said that the UML leveraged on online dating, match-making or social networking platforms to lure unsuspecting male subjects to cause alarm at the debtor’s residential address on the pretext of looking for their ‘dates’.

Under the Moneylenders Act, first-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an UML, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to five years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and shall also be liable to caning of between three and six strokes.

The Police advised members of the public to stop taking up loans from UMLs, only engage the services of licensed moneylenders listed on the Ministry of Law’s Registry of Moneylenders website, stop assisting UMLs in conducting unlawful harassment against other parties, be wary when befriending unknown persons from online dating, match-making or social networking websites, and arrange for meet-ups at a public area.

Earlier this month, six firms have been selected to pilot new business models for moneylending, as part of an initiative to better protect borrowers through business-led improvements.

In total, the six firms will be allowed to apply for licences for up to 15 new outlets which represents less than 10% of the 162 outlets currently operated by the 157 licensed moneylenders. According to the ministry, the number of moneylending outlets has decreased from 215 outlets, to 162 outlets since the moratorium was imposed in 2012.

Click here to find the list of valid moneylenders registered in Singapore.