Who is the Registry of Moneylenders (RoM) in Singapore?
At one point, governments had viewed money lenders as illegal scammers preying on individuals who have financial issues. Some unscrupulous groups had set exorbitant rates or terms that they can change as their borrowers finishes their paying term. Fortunately, with Singapore’s Ministry of Law (MinLaw) finally enacting the Moneylenders Act and having the RoM in place, moneylending is now both legal and helpful for many Singaporeans.
The Registry of Moneylenders, part of the Singapore Ministry of Law, is responsible for the registration and regulation of licensed moneylenders in Singapore to ensure the moneylending industry is highly regulated.
The relevant laws and regulations regarding licensed money lending can be found online on the Registry of Moneylenders’ website, which includes:
1) Moneylenders Act (Chapter 188)
2) Moneylenders Rules
3) Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Rules 2009
Licensing of Moneylenders
Under the Moneylenders Act, no person is allowed to conduct the business of moneylending unless they are authorised to do so by licence, or if they qualify as an excluded or exempt moneylender under the Moneylenders Act.
The Registry of Moneylenders is the authority to grant or reject a licence issuance or renewal to the moneylenders. Usually the licence will be valid for 12months, after which it would expire.
During the licensed period, licensed moneylenders are required to strictly comply with all the laws and regulations, or the Registrar has the right to suspend or revoke the license for the business of moneylending.
Approval of Places of Moneylending Business
In the business of moneylending, a proposed business premises has to be deemed suitable by the Registrar and prior approval has to be given before conducting of the moneylending business at the location is allowed.
Under section 10 of the Moneylenders Act, licensed moneylenders may also operate from more than one location with the approval of the Registrar of Moneylenders. Each approved place of business is managed by a Test-Qualified Manager who has passed the Moneylenders’ test and whose appointment as a manager is approved by the Registrar. The Test-Qualified Manager ensures that all relevant moneylending laws are complied with to provide professional financial service in Singapore.
Licensed moneylenders are required to meet the borrower in person at the approved place of business to conduct physical face-to-face verification of his/her identity before granting any loan and to explain to the borrower the terms and conditions of the loan, and any cautionary statement or advisory as the Registrar may direct. A loan transaction performed fully online is disallowed.
Before visiting a licensed moneylender’s website or office, you are also strongly encouraged to verify the website and physical address using only the list of licensed moneylenders found on the Registry of Moneylenders’ website.
Before Granting a Loan
Before the grant of any loan, a licensed moneylender is required by law to inform the borrower in writing, the terms of the loan, including information on the:
1) Nominal Interest Rate;
2) Late Interest Rate;
3) Other permitted fees to be charged, such as Administrative Fee, Late Fee and Legal Cost incurred for loan recovery;
4) Instalment repayment details in cases where there is a fixed period agreed upon for the payment of a fixed amount of money, until the debt (plus corresponding interest) is fully paid – also known as a Term Loan.
Confidentiality, Security and Integrity of Borrower Information
Under Section 30Q and 30R of the Moneylenders Act, licenced moneylenders have a duty to maintain the confidentiality, security and integrity of borrower information.
During the Loan Application, the borrower information collected is to be used strictly for creditworthiness assessment and/or determination of the maximum amount that moneylenders can lend to the borrower by law.
Disclosure of borrower information is also restricted to several related or authorised parties only.
Licensed moneylenders are responsible to safeguard the information from unauthorised access, and to ensure that the collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or similar risks, is consistent with Personal Data Protection Act.
Prohibition of Unsolicited Loan
The Registry of Moneylenders require that borrowers first submit a duly completed loan application form before a licensed moneylender can process and grant a loan. Only illegal unlicensed moneylenders (UML) solicit for loans via:
a) SMS or WhatsApp text messages while claiming to represent licensed moneylenders; and
b) Websites and social media accounts that mimic those of licensed moneylenders (including those with website addresses that closely resembles those of licensed moneylenders).
It is commonly observed that such unlicensed moneylenders approach individuals via mobile text messages or phone calls, to ask them to transfer monies on the pretext of paying “GST fees” or “processing fees” before the disbursement of a loan. Such tactics are likely to be scams and should be avoid at all cost. To report any person who you are suspecting, uncertain of and know are involved in illegal moneylending business, the public can report to the police hotline at 1800-255-000 or submit the information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness Members of the public may also call the National Crime Prevention Council’s X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664. If by any chance you are dealing with loan sharks, make a police report instantly and stop making further payments.
You should only have dealings with legitimate moneylenders in Singapore to safeguard your interests and ensure your information is confidential and secure. The Registry provides, on their website, the complete and regularly updated list of list of licensed moneylenders you can approach for legitimate loan services. Before visiting a licensed moneylender’s website, you are also strongly encouraged to verify the website address using only the list of licensed moneylenders found on the Registry of Moneylenders’ website. The Registry of Moneylenders is easily accessible if you have any questions. You can contact them via website https://rom.mlaw.gov.sg/
While a moneylender may be licensed, the following unfair practices are not acceptable:
1. Use of abusive or threatening language;
2. Asking for your SingPass ID or password;
3. Not giving back your NRIC card or other important personal ID documents like ATM card or passport;
4. Asking you to sign on a blank or incomplete Note of Contract for the loan;
5. Granting you a loan without explaining the terms or giving you a copy of the loan contract or without exercising due diligence (such as approving the loan via SMS without first obtaining your loan application form and supporting documents); and
6. Withholding any part of the principal loan amount for any reason.
What If I Can’t Pay Back the Money?
There are ways to handle situations where you cannot immediately pay for the money you borrowed. In some instances, you can try negotiating with the licensed moneylender for an extension or refinancing plans, but this may come with additional fees. It is always advisable to do this before the loan – or the next instalment in a term loan – is due so as to avoid or reduce possible late payment charges.
If a borrower is persistently unable to pay back the loan, licensed moneylenders have the choice to exercise their legal right to sue the borrower, especially in cases where the loan has been secured by an asset.
If you are struggling with endless repayment cycle every month, but have the intention to clear all your outstanding loans with multiple lenders, you may consider debt consolidation loans. For more information about debt consolidation, you can refer to our DCL page.
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