Loan Sharks

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 one-to-one 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:

Loan sharks - breaking down the barriers [pdf] 380KB

How can I report a loan shark?

Warning icon If you have been approached by someone you think is a loan shark, you need to report them to the Illegal Lending Team using 01204 328000.

Contact the Police if you are in immediate danger.

You can also report a loan shark using any of the following methods:

  • Email:
  • Phone: 0300 555 222
  • Or phone the local police: 101
  • Text: Loan Shark + your message to 60003

How do I check if a lender is legitimate?

logo for FCA - Financial conduct authority

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 enter your home.

To check if a lender is legitimate, go to the Financial Conduct Authority Website.

How can I spot a loan shark?

People icon 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.

Here are some of the most typical signs to look out for:

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
Get Nasty

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
  • Make you grow cannabis in your home
  • Handling stolen goods
  • Payment in kind / prostitution

Loan sharks and the law

hands behind bars in prison

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.

Support provided by the Illegal Money Lending Team

The England Illegal Money Lending Team has a hotline that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and provides the following 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 one to one 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

Visit the Stop Loan Sharks website to learn more about the England Illegal Money Lending Team, or get in touch on 0300 555 2222 if you think they could help you.