We’re proud to be the first national debt advice provider to achieve partner recognition status for our work in raising awareness about loan sharks and helping clients access essential support services.

A report published by the Centre for Social Justice earlier this year estimated that more than a million people could be in debt to a loan shark in England – this figure has more than trebled over the last decade.

Responding to the growing issue of illegal money lending, we teamed up with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to help eradicate loan sharks from our communities and protect the most vulnerable from falling into their clutches.

We’ve been working hard to spread messages about the dangers of loan sharks, how they can be avoided, and helped thousands of people take back control of their finances.

What is a loan shark?

A loan shark is someone who lends money illegally without the correct permissions from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Don’t fall for their tricks, which often involve astronomical interest rates and threats of violence. We have published useful advice here to help you stay safe from illegal money lending.

Specialist training

Thanks to specialist training delivered by the IMLT, our debt advisers are well-equipped to help clients who have experienced illegal money lending. They can identify those at risk of loan sharking practices and safely refer victims to confidential support services.

Emma Gibbons, Vulnerability Lead at PayPlan, said: “My colleagues and I are thrilled to be recognised with the Partner award but, more importantly, this will be vital for our clients and the support we’ll be able to provide them with.

“We are looking forward to continuing to work together with the Illegal Money Lending Team to make a difference.”

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “PayPlan has demonstrated a strong commitment to fighting illegal money lending, providing help and support to those who need it most. To celebrate this achievement, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve given them Partner Recognition Status for their efforts.

“Debt advisers are often the first port of call for victims of illegal money lending. The ability to ask the right questions and respond sensitively and effectively is vital in unearthing such cases. We believe that by working together, we can make a real difference in the fight against loan sharks and protect people from further financial harm.”

For advice or to report a suspected loan shark, you can call the England Illegal Money Lending Team 24/7 on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live chat is available on the website Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.