3. Loan sharks

A loan shark is an illegal money lender who operates without a licence from the Office of Fair Trading.

Loan sharks often target vulnerable people. They work alone, or have a tight group of collectors.

How to spot a loan shark

  • Illegal money lenders generally start out being friendly, and are often heard of through a friend, but can change very quickly as soon as payment is missed.
  • Frequently illegal money lenders offer little or no paperwork (agreements, payment books, receipts).
  • If you do sign paperwork, they may not give you a copy (as required by the Consumer Credit Act 1974).
  • Often illegal money lenders do not tell the victims the interest rate, they can add extra charges or increase the amount despite the victims making regular payments.
  • They often accept payments in cash and collect weekly.
  • They will often refuse to tell victims when they will finish paying or how much they still owe.
  • Illegal money lenders may take passports, driving licences, benefits cards, bank cards or other items as security for the loan.
  • Sometimes illegal money lenders make their victims feel threatened and intimated or are violent towards them.

Report a loan shark

If you suspect a loan shark is working in your area, contact the confidential advice line:

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