What is a loan shark?
A loan shark is an unlicensed money lender who often targets people on low income or who are struggling financially. Borrowing from a loan shark can seem like an easy option but often it will lead to a vicious cycle of threats, intimidation and spiralling debts.
How can I spot a loan shark?
Here are some of the warning signs to watch out for that a lender is acting illegally:
- Giving you no paperwork or agreement on a loan
- Offering you a cash loan
- Refusing to give you information about the loan
- Keeping items such as your passport and bank card until the debt is paid
- Taking things from you if you don't pay on time
- Adding more interest or charges so the debt never goes away
- Using intimidation or violence if you don't pay
- Starting off by being your friend but quickly turning nasty
- You feel scared about people finding out about the loan
How can I get help?
If you have borrowed money from a loan shark, it is important to remember that you have done nothing wrong and there is no shame in seeking help. The loan shark has broken the law, not you.
Stop Loan Sharks has a safe, online reporting form that you can use to report illegal money lenders.
The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders and offers support to those who have borrowed from them.
You can call them on 0300 555 2222, or visit their website to speak to them over live chat or complete their online form.