Why is this important?
This information applies to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
- About loan sharks
- What is a loan shark
- Checking a lender is licensed
- What to do if you owe money to a loan shark
- Further help and information
This information tells you about illegal lending and what to do if you have borrowed from a loan shark.
To lend money lawfully you have to be licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). People who lend money without a licence are breaking the law. They are known as loan sharks.
Loan sharks often work from home, charge very high rates of interest and don't give you much paperwork to confirm the arrangements they have made with you.
Loan sharks often take other illegal action to collect the money they have lent you, such as threatening violence or taking away your credit cards or valuables. In extreme cases, they have been known to force non-payers into prostitution and drug dealing.
If a loan shark threatens you or acts in a violent way, contact the police straight away.
If you borrow money from someone who doesn’t have a licence you haven’t broken the law, they have. You can find out whether a money lender is licensed by checking the Consumer Credit Register on the OFT website www2.crw.gov.uk.
If you think a money lender is operating without a licence, in England or in Scotland, you can speak in confidence to the Illegal Money Lending Hotline on 0300 555 2222. If you are phoning from Scotland your call will be diverted to the Scottish Illegal Money Lending Project. You can also call the Project direct on 0141 287 6655.
In England and Scotland you can also email the Illegal Money Lending Team, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text loan shark and your message to 60003.
In Wales, you can report concerns about a money lender to the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit which operates a 24 hour confidential helpline on: 0300 123 33 11.
In Northern Ireland you can contact the Trading Standards Consumerline, telephone 0300 123 6262.
The advisers can give you advice about your situation. The information you provide helps them to take action to stop illegal money lending.
You can find more information about loan sharks on the Directgov website at www.direct.gov.uk.
If you are in debt or you are thinking about borrowing from a loan shark, get advice first, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click nearest CAB.
For more information about different ways of borrowing money and getting credit including dealing with loan sharks, see Types of borrowing.
You may also find the following Adviceguide information helpful:
- Getting the best credit deal
- Credit cards
- Banks and building societies
- Increasing your income
- How to spend less
- Help with debt in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Help with debt in Scotland.
The Money Advice Service
The Money Advice Service is a free, independent service. Their website (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) has lots of useful information about borrowing and managing your money.
Go to their website for more information about: