Loan sharks – know the warning signs

Loan sharks are unregulated, often give cash loans without any paperwork and charge extortionate interest rates.

They may offer what appears to be a quick-fix small loan, but in the long term, any money borrowed will come at a very high price and may lead to violence, threats and intimidation.

Anyone could be at risk of falling prey to these opportunistic loan sharks if they are struggling financially due to COVID-19 – which is why we’re working in partnership with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to highlight the issue.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is a specialist team that investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders while supporting those who have borrowed money from a loan shark.

A survey conducted by the IMLT revealed over 10 per cent of loan shark victims met the lender in the workplace.

Loan sharks are also moving online to target potential victims on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Beware of loan offers that seem too good to be true, and always check the lender is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Red flags to look out for when dealing with loan sharks:

🚩 Cash loan or bank transfer with no paperwork, such as a credit agreement or record of payments

🚩 Refuse to give information about the loan, such as the interest rate or how much you owe

🚩 Forced to hand over your bank card and personal items as “security” on the loan

🚩 A debt which keeps growing even though you’re making payments

🚩 Borrowed from someone you thought was a friend

🚩 Lender turned nasty and threatened you when you couldn’t pay

If you have borrowed from a loan shark and need support, call the 24/7 confidential Stop Loan Sharks helpline on 0300 555 2222.

You can also email the team at or submit a report online at Live Chat is available on the website 9am-5pm weekdays.