Loan Sharks are unlicensed moneylenders who charge very high interest rates and sometimes use threats and violence to frighten people who can't pay back their loan.

Facts about Loan Sharks:

  • It is illegal for anyone to operate a money-lending business if they don't have a licence for this from the Office of Fair Trading
  • It's the loan shark who is breaking the law - not the person who has borrowed the money. You can't be prosecuted for having taken a loan from a loan shark
  • Any loan made by someone without a licence is 'unenforceable' - this means you cannot legally be made to pay it back
  • Those who have borrowed money from illegal lenders are often threatened and intimidated into paying back much more than they borrowed. Whole communities can be affected if borrowers are forced to turn to crime to pay back out-of-control loans. Loan sharks are also often involved in other crime
  • A loan from a loan shark is, on average, three times the cost of the same loan from someone operating legally. Interest rates of between 8000% and 117,000% have been uncovered

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) keeps details of all licensed lenders, as well as everyone who has applied for a licence or has had one taken away or suspended. If a lender isn't listed as having a current licence, don't borrow money from them and don’t let them come into your home.

Check the FCA register to see if a lender is licensed

To report a Loan shark follow this link.

If you have borrowed money from a loan shark you are under no legal obligation to repay the debt, you should contact your local Trading Standards office immediately – to find your nearest Trading Standards office, click here.

For more information including how to spot a Loan Shark follow this link.

If you are being harassed by your creditor, follow this link for advice.

Information on what to do if you owe money to an illegal lender is available from StepChange.org.

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