TL;DR – Keeping up with the times.
The government is trying to get companies to innovate and be more productive. Given the new economic reality, that’s the only way for Singapore to continue to grow at a comfortable, yet sustainable pace. However, that’s not exactly easy to do. It takes a certain mentality, a certain disregard of rules, in order to be innovative. So it’s no wonder that loansharks are one group of “companies” that have been innovating too.
In the past, anyone who wants to borrow money from loansharks will need to get a guarantor. The loanshark will get a copy of the guarantor’s IC and let the guarantor sign some documents. But that is so troublesome. Some people can’t find guarantors. As a result, they can’t get the loans, and the loansharks have less business.
How to solve this problem? Innovate!
Now loansharks don’t need a potential borrower to get a guarantor to sign any documents. So long as the loansharks can get the address and contact details of someone close to that potential borrower, they can consider that person to be a guarantor.
This innovative practice was reported in an article by Lianhe Zaobao. A domestic helper borrowed $600 from a loanshark. She used her work permit to borrow the money. The employer’s name and address was written on the work permit. From that, the loansharks were able to get the contact details of the employer. That allowed them to automatically make the employer the guarantor for the domestic helper’s loan.
Consequently, the loanshark made several threatening phone calls. All efforts by the employer to reason with the loanshark fell on deaf ears. The loanshark told the employer not to “‘play with him” or there will be dire consequences.
That’s not the only innovative practice that loansharks have come up with.
Loansharks used to splash paint on the walls and doors of borrowers and sometimes, neighbours’. But the police have been cracking down on the runners of loansharks who do such tasks. So it’s getting increasingly difficult. You think that that would hamper the operations of loansharks.
You would be wrong.
The loansharks have found new “runners”. They are the delivery team of McDonald’s and KFC. What the loansharks do is to place an order, usually a large one, with McDonald’s or KFC, and get that order delivered to the address of the borrower, or guarantor. Of course, the loansharks wouldn’t have been so kind to have paid for the order. The borrower, or guarantor, or unfortunate neighbours, would have to pay for the order.
But surely you can refuse to pay, right? Sure. But when you refuse to pay, the delivery person will call the person who placed the order (i.e. the loanshark). The loanshark will then ask to speak to the borrower/guarantor/neighbour. That solves the problem of the borrower/guarantor ignoring the loanshark. Do it enough times, and the harassment might be enough for the guarantor/neighbour to pressure the borrower to pay up.
What can we do?
If you have never agreed t0 be a guarantor to any loans, then don’t give in. The moment you give in and give the loansharks money, they’ll latch on to you for more. The best course of action you can take is to make a police report. And let the loansharks know that you’ve made a police report.
The loansharks want money. They don’t want more trouble for themselves. If they think that their effort won’t yield any returns and might even bring undue police attention on them, it’s unlikely that they will continue to invest any effort in harassing you.
Will that stop loansharks completely? Probably not.
If only other companies in Singapore can be as resilient and innovative.