What’s a loan shark?

A loan shark – or illegal money lender – is someone who lends money illegally without proper authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

That means if you borrow from them, they don’t have to follow the rules – they can decide how much you pay back and when.

These criminals are not always easy to spot — they can be another parent in the school playground, a family friend, or a neighbour.

Illegal lenders can make the offer of quick cash seem hard to resist, but very quickly, the situation can spiral out of control, and borrowers can be subjected to threats, violence and intimidation if they struggle to make a payment.

Am I dealing with a loan shark?

Warning signs to indicate that you could be dealing with an illegal lender include:

  • being given no paperwork upon the agreement of a loan
  • being given no detailed information about a loan
  • having items such as a bank card or passport taken from you until the debt is paid
  • being threatened or intimidated if you don’t pay on time

Who should I contact if I’m dealing with a loan shark?

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), also known as Stop Loan Sharks, is a dedicated team of specialists who are leading the fight against loan sharks across the country.

Set up 20 years ago, the team has helped thousands of people escape the clutches of these criminals and wiped out more than £91.3 million worth of illegal debt.

The team is committed to investigating reports of illegal lending in communities and prosecuting those responsible. Over the past 20 years, it has successfully prosecuted more than 400 illegal lenders, leading to jail terms of almost 600 years.

If you or someone you know is affected by illegal money lending, contact Stop Loan Sharks for support and advice without delay.

There is a confidential 24/7 hotline available on 0300 555 2222 and a Live Chat facility is available on the website stoploansharks.co.uk between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Remember that you are not in trouble if you have borrowed money from a loan shark. You should feel no blame or shame – they are the people committing a crime, not you.

If you’re struggling with debt as a result of borrowing money from a loan shark or any other circumstances, we’re here to help. We’re open from 8am to 8pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 3pm on Saturdays. You can call us on 0800 316 1833 or chat with us digitally on Live Chat.