PETALING JAYA: Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing, warn consumer associations and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
In a statement on its website (bit.ly/epf_warning), the federal retirement planning fund warns contributors against falling for the latest sophisticated schemes being offered by loan sharks:
“EPF has identified ads on social media offering personal loans using EPF money as collateral. These offers make room for third parties to take advantage of contributors’ savings.
“Members are advised to be vigilant and avoid being deceived by offers that will affect their EPF savings.”
Illegal moneylenders are clever at changing their modus operandi to appear legitimate, pointed out Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Dr Ma’amor Osman, adding that they reveal their true colours only when it is time to collect payment.
“There is this saying, ‘The moth forgets the trap, but the trap does not forget the moth.’
“These illegal moneylenders change their modus operandi so the moth doesn’t even realise it is in a trap, and they get more and more sophisticated to trick their victims.
“But they still use force to collect their payment.
“Those days, they would hide behind credit services companies so people see them as genuine since they are registered under the Housing and Local Government Ministry, but poor monitoring is allowing them to operate beyond the law,” he said, adding that some have compounded their interest as high as 1,000%.
Ma’amor believes the government should relook provisions under licensed credit services companies that might stop members of the public from borrowing money through proper channels.
“We have Tekun Nasional, Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia but why do people still go to these illegal moneylenders?” said Ma’amor, referring to government financial services agencies that provide loans.
“The system has failed or its not user-friendly? Small traders might not be able to provide documents but they have the ability to pay back, so we need to help them or these ah long will take advantage of them,” he said.
He added that the government should also beef up awareness of financial scams among the public, especially of the danger of allowing bank accounts to be used as mule accounts for money laundering. This trick allows the crooks to avoid capture while the mule account holder pays the price.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur Consumer Safety Association president Samsuddin Mohamad Fauzi said the Communications and Multimedia Commission should take immediate action against those promoting illegal moneylending services on social media.
“They should not wait for the police to report to them; instead they should take proactive measures to take down accounts promoting illegal moneylending services.
“Prevention is always better than cure,” he said.
Samsuddin, who has helped ah long victims in the past, said most of those he helped were not aware they were borrowing from illegal moneylenders.
“They signed an agreement, but they didn’t get a copy of the agreement. This will not happen with legitimate lenders,” he said.