Phone or online ads offering loans are best ignored

Legal moneylenders are not allowed to advertise through SMSes or WhatsApp.
Legal moneylenders are not allowed to advertise through SMSes or WhatsApp. PHOTO: ST FILE

In loan scams, the first mistake is to respond to unsolicited Whats-App messages and online advertisements, said Ms Jolene Ong, chairman of Arise2care Community Services, an organisation helping people to manage debts.

Said Ms Ong: "Even if you could afford to pay back a small loan of, say, $1,000, ignore the advertisements. Legal moneylenders are not allowed to advertise through SMSes or WhatsApp."

Such scams almost doubled in the first half of this year, with 364 cases reported and about $730,000 lost.

In comparison, there were 189 cases reported in the first half of last year and about $250,000 lost.

For some, like a 27-year-old man Ms Ong helped recently, curiosity got the better of them.

The man borrowed $1,000, thinking his loan would be settled in a few weekly instalments. He ended up paying $4,000.

Ms Ong added: "He incurred administrative or late-payment fees. Sometimes, even when it was not his fault - like when the loan service personnel could not be reached - he still had to pay penalties."

 
 

Some believe loan scams have a link to unlicensed moneylenders as harassment tactics seem similar.

Another loan scam involves strangers calling to say funds have been deposited into one's bank account. Ms Ong's advice is to just hang up. While trying to clarify matters, one may end up divulging personal banking details, she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2018, with the headline 'Phone or online ads offering loans are best ignored'. Print Edition | Subscribe