Loan sharks are illegal lenders, i.e. someone who lends money without having a licence.
They will often target low income and desperate families.
They may seem friendly at first but borrowing from them is never a good idea because they lend money illegally and can ruin peoples lives.
Loan sharks do not just affect YOU, they affect families, children and communities.
See below for how to spot and report a loan shark.
Breaking down the barriers
Most people do not report loan sharks due to fear. Loans sharks will say and do anything to keep you under their control, however, once this is reported, you get 121 dedicated help and support.
This document looks at breaking down the barriers and hopefully will provide reassurance if you do want to report a loan shark.
How to spot a loan shark
A loan shark could be male, female, young or old, so there its not always easy to spot a loan shark by how they look.
There are a few signs to look out for and loan sharks typically:
|Paperwork||Offer little or no paperwork, such as a licence, credit agreement or record of payments|
|Receipts||Won't provide you with receipts or proof of payments|
|Increase Debt||Increase the debt or add additional amounts to it without your permission|
|Information||Refuse to give information, such as the interest rate or how much you still owe|
|Never ending debt||Not allow you to settle your debt|
They may resort to intimidation, threats or violence
|Crime||Often are involved in petty or organised crime|
|May suggest other forms of payment||May involve you and your family in petty crime, for example
How to report a loan shark
If you have been approached by someone you think is a loan shark, you need to report them to the Illegal Lending Team and contact the Police if you are in immediate danger.
You can report a loan shark by any of the following methods:
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: 0300 555 222.
- Text: Loan shark + your message to 60003
- Local Police - 101
Remember, Loan sharks do not just affect YOU, they affect families, children, etc.
How to check a lender is legitimate
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) keeps details of all licensed lenders, as well as everyone who has applied for a licence or has had one taken away or suspended.
If a lender is not listed as having a current licence, DO NOT borrow money from them and DO NOT let them come into your home.
Support provided by the Illegal Money Lending Team
The Illegal Money Lending Team has a hotline that is open 24hours a day, 365 days a year and provides the follwiong service:
- Managed by Investigators, on a rota
- Calls can be made anonymously – you don’t need to provide your name and address
- If you want to provide your details, a member of the Illegal Money Lending Team will provide 121 support for you and your family
- Calls are not recorded and are 100% confidential
- Email and text service too
- Prosecutions can be made WITHOUT a witness statement
- Report anything that you think is relevant, no matter how small the detail
- You can report if you suspect your friends
Illegal Money Lending Team
The Illegal Money Lending Team is set up to specifically deal with loan sharks. You do not need to provide your details when reporting a loan shark, however, if you do, the team will provide one 2 one, dedicated support for you and your family.
Since the team set up, the have made:
- Over 324 prosecutions
- Over 2,000 more Loan Sharks identified
- Over 26,150 victims have been helped
- Over £62 million illegal “debt” wiped out
- Over £27 million worth of assets being investigated
- Prison sentences totalling 206 years for illegal money lending and associated crimes
Loan sharks and the law
Although some loan sharks may resort to intimidation and even violence, they are not beyond the law. Any lender, licensed or unlicensed who harasses you is breaking the law.
Some loan sharks will threaten you by saying you will be prosecuted and even sent to prison if you don’t pay up. This can’t happen. An unlicensed lender has no legal right to recover the debt because the loan is illegal.
Please remember, if you have borrowed money from a loan shark, you have done nothing wrong. They are breaking the law, not you.