In a more recent case, fraudsters have targeted EPF contributors by offering ways to help them withdraw RM500 from Account 2 of their savings.
These fraudsters know that many people are desperately in need of cash or are eager to invest their money for returns that are better than what is offered by legitimate financial institutions.
The Consumers’ Association of Penang urges consumers to take loans only from licensed money lenders as the last resort, and not to use the money for house renovation, purchase of furniture or other unnecessary items.
Even then, consumers should conduct a background check on the money lender’s registration number via the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry website at https://emaps.kpkt.gov.my/emaps/emaps/index.cfm.
If consumers are careless, they will end up poorer because of the exorbitant interest rates and also risk harassment when they cannot repay their loans.
Consumers should be alert when a “money lender” asks for an interest rate of more than 12%. Under Section 17A (1) of the Moneylenders Act 1951, “the interest for a secured loan shall not exceed twelve per centum per annum and the interest for an unsecured loan shall not exceed eighteen per centum per annum.”
Under Section 8 of the Act, it is illegal for a money lender to extend loans to persons below 18 years of age.
We would advise consumers not to be intimidated by phone calls from people claiming to be from the police, court, Bank Negara Malaysia or the Inland Revenue Board.
Authorities from these bodies will not call to ask for personal information or threaten to come to the house to arrest a person or confiscate properties. The genuine authorities would request the person to go to the respective office via an official letter.
Victims of scams are advised to lodge a police report and also alert the relevant authorities, such as the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry in respect of illegal money lenders. Every report counts because it will be part of the statistics to alert law enforcers on how serious and widespread the problem is.
MOHIDEEN ABDUL KADER
Consumers Association of Penang