Moneylending is a legitimate business in Singapore with an illegal twist to it. Loan sharks parade around as moneylenders, offering you loans without full disclosure of the terms and conditions of the loan, and when you default on your payments they hound you, calling and texting and threatening, and their interest rates can increase to outrageous percentages on a daily basis.
Even though there are strict laws that govern money lending activities, people still fall prey to the loan sharks in Singapore, and this shouldn’t be so. One of such examples is that of a foreign domestic worker, or your maid borrowing money from loan sharks and implicating you in the debt.
Yes, this is a thing. Your foreign domestic worker
can use your name and number and take a loan, and when it is time to repay, you get saddled with the debt, because you unknowingly became her debt guarantor. When the situation gets worse, the maid runs away leaving you to handle all the loan share related problems.
Domestic Helper In Singapore
Having a domestic worker or maid in Singapore is actually a very normal thing, especially when you have a very busy schedule and neither you nor your partner (if any) has the time to take care of the house and cook meals after hours at work. You can get a domestic helper for part-time or full-time, depending on your needs and wants.
A part-time domestic worker is one who has keys to your flat or apartment and comes in a couple of days a week to clean, cook, and stock your refrigerator with groceries. A part-time domestic worker is relatively cheaper than full-time helpers.
A full-time maid, usually called a foreign domestic helper and the person must be living in Singapore for the sole purpose of being a full-time domestic helper. She must live in your home, which means that you have to provide them with accommodation in your house, such as a room or a space of his or her own. You are also responsible for their meals, health care, insurance for maid, and a return trip ticket to their country of origin (as stated on their record).
It is ideal to get your domestic worker maid insurance, aside from health insurance. This maid insurance like fdw insurance entitles them to benefits like medical examination and surgical expenses, hospital allowance during hospitalization, and security bonds as required by the Ministry of Manpower. Insurance for fdw is a big help for employers especially during emergencies and when the domestic workers ask for a leave.
When domestic workers take a vacation and go to their country of origin, the employer usually needs to buy a Performance Bond that is mandated by the government to cover the travel fees and other legal documents. Maids insurance can cover these variables as well as the processing fees of renewing their passports.
On the other hand, an employer is required to pay a monthly fee of at least S$265 to the Singaporean government or Ministry of Manpower to buy a bond that will cover the fees if your maid runs away. A domestic worker runs away when they have been mistreated by their employer, and sometimes it is this poor treatment that makes them borrow from loan sharks and saddle you with the debt. Maid runaway Singapore is not new and it happens all the time, so as an employer, you need to educate your maid to avoid loan sharks and save themself from financial complications.
How To Prevent Them Borrowing From Loan Sharks
Some foreign domestic helpers may have an actual need for the money and unknowingly borrow from loan sharks in Singapore, thinking that their wages will be enough to cover the loan, and that is when they find out that they have been swindled.
This could be one of the reasons why maids run away, complicating their employers in the process. You can prevent this by taking the following steps:
1.Educate Them To Be Honest With You
Encourage honesty between you and your domestic worker. You can do this by showing them that they can trust you; being nice to them, and being willing to listen to what they have to say. Some employers treat their maids as though they are not intelligent enough to have an opinion, and this is just wrong. Treat them as you would want to be treated in their position, and they will be honest and open with you.
2. Educate Them About Loan Sharks And Illegal Moneylenders
Make sure they know about loan sharks and unlicensed moneylenders and how to identify them. They should not reply to any messages telling them to take instant cash loans without documentation. Also, ask the employment agency to file a police report in case you get implicated by a runaway maid that borrowed money from loan sharks.
3. Legalised Moneylenders
Tell them they should approach legal moneylenders and offer to go with them if there is a need. They can access a list of legal, licensed moneylenders in the Registry. Let your domestic helper understand the dire consequences if they loan from illegal moneylenders. Knowing the difference between legal money lenders to Ah longs or loan sharks can prevent them to run away.
4. Keep Your Identity Card And Letters/ Bills Safe
Loan sharks will ask your domestic helper for your SingPass login password so as to verify your address: she should not give it to them. Don’t leave your SingPass letters or bills with your personal information lying around in the house, neither should you leave your NRIC unlocked.
This will prevent a temptation to steal your identity and take out a loan under your name or unnecessary embroil you as a guarantor. Also, it is wise to notify the employment agency when such a situation happens, it will help you to prevent a runaway maid from stealing your personal information further.
The agency will help you to suspend the work permit if necessary, work permit is very important to helpers since its one of their gateway to obtain a work.
5. Educate Them To Avoid Talking To Strangers And Providing Personal Details
Emphasize the importance of keeping private details private. Do not disclose any personal information to people she does not know, or people of questionable character.
What To Do If Your Domestic Helper Borrows From Loan Sharks
If your domestic helper or maid approaches you and tells you that they have borrowed money from a loan shark, do not go off the bat making unfounded accusations. Keep a calm, level head, and set them down.
Ask them when and how the transaction took place, what information they gave to the loan sharks, and how much is involved. Once you have all the information necessary, do not waste any time in doing the following:
1. Report To The Police
They may not follow up immediately, but file a complaint with them anyway. A police report can document what took place and how the loan shark transaction happened.
2. Notify the Employment Agency
You need to notify the maid’s agency in this case, if the situation is worse then they can suspend the work permit of the worker. The agency can help the employers to take legal actions as well and other legal actions concerning the work permit of the worker. Knowing that the work permit has been suspended or revoked, this can prevent the worker to run away, and if the maid runs away then the maid agency will assist you to track down the maid.
3. Report To the Ministry of Singapore
4. Change You And Your Helper’s Phone Numbers
Immediately change your phone numbers. Without a number to reach either of you on, the loan shark will be deterred in his quest to fleece you for money.
4. Install CCTV
Install a security camera that will either deter loan sharks from harassing your family or capture them in action. This additional evidence can help the police in capturing the criminals.
Having a domestic helper in Singapore is a good idea, they can be a great help to you and to your family. However, they may have needs that require additional finances, encouraging honesty and openness will deter them from going to loan sharks to get loans.
Educate your domestic helper on the availability of legal, licensed moneylenders in Singapore, and they can easily find them by looking at the Registry for the list of licensed moneylenders.
Also, if you are an employer, aside from educating your domestic worker to the legal way of lending. You must also handle the situation calmly and seek help from the police to assist you in eliminating the loan shark harassment you are experiencing.