How can I tell whether an advertisement is from a licensed moneylender or an unlicensed moneylender?

Normally, it is common to see businesses advertise their goods and services in various mediums. Advertising enables them to reach their target market easily and introduce their offerings without having to go to every house to introduce themselves and what they have.

Unfortunately, for those looking for special services like those looking for a personal loan, looking for advertisements can be difficult, especially in the old days. You would need to go to the bank or a moneylender personally to ask what their services are if you need funding for a specific need. If you have selected the bank or moneylender to borrow money from, you will have to wait for a while before you can get an approval.

However, with the introduction of the internet and the algorithms that enable efficient advertising, financial firms like moneylenders can now easily market their loan program using social media or their own company websites. They can even market their services for free online. As a result, you may see a lot of advertisements saying they offer personal loans for anyone hoping to borrow money in Facebook and other social media sites.

But, before you go clicking that ‘Apply Now’ button on the Ad, you need to check if the moneylender is registered and guarantees good service.

So, if you are in Singapore, how do you exactly determine whether that moneylender is registered or not based on their advertisements?

Are Moneylenders Allowed to Post Ads?

Like any other business in the market today, governments have certain regulations to ensure that consumers are protected from unlicensed businesses.

In some countries like Singapore, business advertising for certain sectors is quite strict even if they have a license to operate. As a result, they cannot properly advertise their services easily and would require you to do full research before you find their details.

One of these affected business sectors is the moneylending industry.

Under the current regulation set by Singapore’s Ministry of Law, sectors like the moneylending industry have to abide by several policies in terms of marketing and advertising.

In terms of their advertisements, they can advertise in the following areas:

  • In online and print business or consumer directories which lists the licensed businesses in the country.
  • In the official website of the moneylender.
  • In areas in, on, and around the moneylender’s offices.

Meanwhile, they cannot place ads in the following areas:

  • In advertising channels like sponsored links which are displayed on search engines and on other Internet web pages.
  • In online directories which lists other moneylenders and their advertisements.
  • In mobile and online messaging, which are sent to the public, customers and former customers.

The remaining regulations that these companies should abide by can be read in this link. Failure to comply with these regulations can cause a penalty for the business in question or the removal of their licenses. 

So, what should you do when you see an Ad online?

Despite the fact there are current laws in place that limits moneylender’s advertisements, there are still a few ads showing services from moneylenders online and people getting tricked into clicking these ads.

Some of the ads you see online featuring moneylender services are actually from financial tech companies that are offering comparisons of different moneylending services. They would ask you to fill up certain details to analyze the services that may most likely fit your preferences, then show you which of the various moneylenders has the loan program that fits your needs. Such sites enable you to make the right decisions when you seek for a loan.

However, there are some instances where some ads bypass the current laws and given the reach of the internet, it can be difficult for law enforcers to find unregistered moneylenders. Sometimes, unregistered moneylenders would purchase online ads to look legitimate and even their websites look real.

As much as possible, it is ideal to ignore these ads because licensed moneylenders would not advertise their services online. Unfortunately, many often fall victim to loan sharks and unlicensed moneylenders because of this tactic and find themselves harassed if they are unable to pay what they owe from these groups. They also fall victim to such tactics because they are not familiar with the laws on moneylenders while doing their research for licensed firms.

If you do find yourself contacting these moneylenders because you cannot determine if they are legitimate or not, stop speaking to them immediately when they do the following:

  • If they use threatening language and behavior.
  • If they are very rude when they respond.
  • If they suddenly give you a loan without confirming your details or your application.
  • If they suddenly give you a loan without collecting your documents and assessing them properly.
  • If they suddenly message you with advertisements on your number or E-mail.
  • If they keep your personal details and IDs.
  • If they give you a loan without explaining the contract details.
  • If they do not agree to meet up with you to discuss the loan and their services

If you do experience these instances from these so-called moneylenders, you must immediately report it to the Ministry of Law or to the Police. You may also report it to the site which hosts the advertisement so they can suspend the account.

Double check!

Aside from knowing the law and ignoring the ads you see online, you can also check out the website of the Ministry of Law for the complete list of approved moneylenders in the country. The list is regularly updated to ensure Singaporeans that their chosen moneylender remains accredited by the government.


If you plan to seek a personal loan from a moneylender in Singapore, it is important you do your research first before you click on the advertisements you see online. Not matter how perfect the advertisement sounds, it is not a guarantee they would provide you with such money.

Remember: You are dealing with money here and if you make the wrong choice, your reputation will be at risk.