Loan sharks or “ah long” in Singapore are not new. They’ve been around for years, creating dozens of millionaires. It is also a way of life for many people in the country.
But loan sharks are illegal, dangerous, and frightening. If you need cash for your business or personal needs, approach only a legal money lender.
Loan Shark Harassment
The language of unlicensed money lenders is harassment. But to understand why, let’s define loan sharks.
An ah long is a person or an organized crime group that extends loans to individuals who cannot get it otherwise from licensed money lenders, such as banks. Cash is quick, which makes it attractive. It doesn’t have a long list of requirements or demands a down payment.
However, the interest rate can be excessive, way higher than that of banks. The payment terms can also be short. Thus, a small debt can balloon quickly that the borrower will struggle to pay it. It then places them in a vicious cycle of indebtedness.
This explains why defaults are common. Banks, though, can repossess your collateral and sell it in an auction to recoup the remaining amount. Loan sharks use harassment.
In 2018, Singapore noted a dramatic increase in scare tactics of nearly 18% in only the first three months. In 2017, it rose by 33.8% compared to the previous year.
One reason is digital communication. Before, an ah long might broadcast a threat through a notice posted around the neighborhood. Some might knock on your door. With digital tools, though, such as a mobile device or instant messaging, they can be more discreet. The chances of detection by police decline.
Loan sharks can also recruit harassers with excellent compensation. This makes the crime even more sinister. During the circuit-breaker period, these unscrupulous money lenders posted fake ads on social media and online job markets for harassers. Their role was supposed to implement the stay-at-home notice, although the real job is to threaten the debtor.
Other loan sharks used food-delivery services to collect money, usually late in the evening. They would order huge amounts of food delivered to the debtor or their relatives. The delivery person would compel the individuals to “pay for the food.”
How to Avoid Dealing with a Loan Shark
The circuit-breaker period hurts the Singaporean economy. Many people have lost their jobs, while a lot of businesses have no other choice but to close their doors temporarily. To revive the economy, it can take a significant cash flow, which many don’t have.
People have plenty of reasons to be desperate and deal with a loan shark. However, you have options. A legal money lender in Singapore can already offer:
- Fast cash loans – These are for individuals with a significant debt to pay or an emergency that needs a considerable amount. The requirements are few, and you can get cash within 24 hours. Unlike that of a loan shark, though, the interest rates are lower, and the terms of payment are clear.
- Payday loans – If you need money but payday is still a few weeks away, you can take advantage of this. Consider it as an advance of your salary.
- Small business loans – Because of limited capital or cash flow, many small businesses deal with an ah long to survive. Some lenders, however, can extend the right loan for them with no minimum amount and affordable interest rates.
Desperation is normal, but it should not be a reason to seek a loan shark. You have choices if you approach the right legal money lender.