Stop Loan Sharks

Please don’t use a loan shark to borrow money, even if you think they’re a friend - they usually start out being friendly but things quickly change, and can result in intimidation or even violence. If you need to borrow money speak to a debt advisor or  the CAB who can help you with free and independent advice, and use a credit union or a bank or building society if still necessary.

Around 310,000 households in the UK are thought to borrow from loan sharks. Loan sharks often target vulnerable people and at key times, such as Christmas, birthdays, weddings or summer holidays,  or when big one off payments are expected. If you know or suspect someone of acting as a loan shark, you can help to stop others from being exploited, spiraling into debt and possibly being in danger of harm.

What is a loan shark?

A loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct permissions from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It is a criminal offence to lend money without authorisation and can lead to a two year prison sentence and/or £5,000 fine.

How do I know if I’ve borrowed from a loan shark?

A loan shark might:

  • Offer little or no legal paperwork on a loan, such as a credit agreement or record of payments,
  • Repayments of at least twice the original amount, often with high charges for defaulting
  • No receipts for payment
  • Refuse to give borrowers information, such as the interest rate or how much you owe, often just “you owe me this much”
  • Take items as security, such as passports, bank cards and driving licences
  • Increase the debt or add additional charges at any time
  • Refuse to allow you to settle your debt
  • Get nasty – they might use intimidation, threats or violence to enforce repayment
  • Customers forced into criminal activity
  • Loans to anyone (under 18’s included)
  • Rarely advertise, find clients by word of mouth
  • These illegal lenders will often appear as a friendly and easy way of borrowing money – however this very quickly changes when it time to pay back

Will I get in trouble for borrowing from a loan shark?

No, 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.

How do I report a Loan Shark?

If you think you have borrowed from a loan shark, you can call the England Illegal Money Lending Team hotline and talk to them in complete confidence. The team can discuss any concerns you may have and will give information and offer advice on your individual situation. They help people to make sense of what is happening and will explain choices you can make to help you take back control from the loan shark.  You can also contact Test Valley Borough Councils Community Safety Team, or the Police.

The Illegal Money Lending Team is a national team that investigates and prosecutes loan sharks and works closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), local Trading Standards and police forces to crack down on illegal money lending.

If you or someone you know have fallen victim to a loan shark, you can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team 24/7 on 0300 555 2222 for anonymous information and in the strictest of confidence. 

After you have reported a loan shark a member of the team will contact you at a time to suit you. They will confidentially talk to you about the loan shark.

Remember, If you have borrowed money from a loan shark you have not broken the law – they have.


The Illegal Money Lending Teams can be contacted by:

You can find out more about their work on Twitter and Facebook:


And you can view some of the stories of the victims of loan sharks on YouTube at: