Figures released by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) show that almost 1 in 10 who borrowed money from loan sharks did so to cover the costs of Christmas last year. Over half of those used loan sharks to cover essentials, like food and fuel. The damage done by these criminals impacts families, communities and individuals. So, what is a ‘loan shark’?
To get a better understanding of the risks involved when dealing with loan sharks, Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, explains:
Loan sharks are doing untold damage in local communities, and we must do all we can to stop them. With their ruthless tactics, these predators are threatening vulnerable families, driving them deeper into debt, and pulling entire communities into an endless cycle of despair.
At a time when families are under extreme cost pressures with mounting living costs, we are deeply concerned that those who are already struggling to make ends meet could be targeted by these predatory lenders.
Our campaign aims to break this cycle by helping people understand the risks of loan sharks, what they can do if they feel threatened and where they can turn for help and support.
The Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline offers confidential advice and support to anyone affected by illegal money lending. We know how stressful and frightening this experience can be. We can give you support on how to deal with this problem and help find a way forward.
Here are some important tips.
- If you’re struggling to make ends meet and need cash fast, the thought of a loan shark might seem tempting, but remember these lenders are not your friends. Debt can quickly spiral out of control – it’s important to think carefully before taking out a loan and consider other options.
- Never send money or give credit card, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust. This information is valuable so make sure you protect it from criminals who can use it to find and stalk you, harass you or threaten those you love.
- If you’re thinking about borrowing money, it’s important to check that your lender is genuine. Loan sharks operate illegally without the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Do your research first and check the firm or person you’re dealing with is listed on the Financial Services Register.
- When exploitative loan sharks are preying on hardship, it’s vital for people to know there is an ethical, local, not-for-profit alternative available. Credit unions are a lifeline for many people, with their services helping members to save regularly, borrow responsibly and keep track of their finances. There are other community lenders who are mostly not for profit, and who reinvest any surpluses into serving vulnerable customers, which can be found on https://www.findingfinance.org.uk/
- Getting trapped in a never-ending spiral of debt after borrowing from a loan shark can have devastating consequences, not only on your finances but also on most other aspects of your life, including your mental health, work and relationships with your family and friends. If you’re worried about a friend or family member, or if you need help yourself, Stop Loan Sharks can offer confidential advice and support.
If you are concerned that someone is being taken advantage of by loan sharks, please contact Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 for support or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
To report a loan shark, please visit Home – Stop Loan Sharks