A loan shark is someone who lends money as a business without the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). These criminals often give cash loans without any paperwork or charge a very high interest rate. People understandably may think they are providing a quick resolution for their problems but longer term the consequences of using a loan shark could be dire.

There are many risks to borrowing from a loan shark, for example:

  • You pay far more in interest than you would through any legal borrowing.
  • You might be harassed or threatened if you get behind with your repayments.
  • You might be pressured into borrowing more money to repay one loan with another and end up in a spiral of debt that you can’t repay.

The Illegal Money Lending Team (often known as Stop Loan Sharks) in England, Scotland and Wales work alongside the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to investigate those operating within the consumer credit market without the appropriate authorisation. An important part of the IMLT’s work is to investigate and prosecute loan sharks and this is combined with awareness raising of the problems and issues that illegal money lending causes.

Red flags to look out for when you think you may be dealing with loan sharks:

  • You have been given a cash loan with no paperwork, for example you have never signed to agree to the loan.
  • They don’t provide information about you loan upfront before providing the money, things like your interest rate or payment amounts.
  • They have taken your bank card, passport, watch or other valuables from you claiming it’s to secure the loan.
  • A debt which keeps growing even though you’re making payments.
  • They become aggressive or nasty and threaten you if you can’t pay.

If you believe you, a family member or someone you know has been targeted by a loan shark, please contact the Stop Loan Sharks team and report what you know. You are not in trouble if you have borrowed cash or have been paying back a loan from an illegal money lender, the loan shark is. They are the people committing a crime, not you.

Stop Loan Sharks

You can phone the Stop Loan Sharks team 24/7 on 0300 555 2222 or you can complete a secure online form or live chat on their website www.stoploansharks.co.uk.