Stop Loan Sharks
Illegal money lending is considered to be under-reported in Britain and is a crime which can cause untold misery and hardship for ordinary people.
An illegal lender, often known as a 'loan shark', is anyone who lends money to more than one person without a licence from the OFT (Office for Fair Trading). Practices often associated with loan sharks include threats of violence when demanding repayment, demanding possessions as security, harassment, being pressured into borrowing more to repay your debts, and extortionate interest rates (as high as 131,000 % APR have been recorded).
There are steps you can take to make sure that you do not become another victim of the loan sharks. These include:
- If you find yourself short and need to borrow money, speak to the London Community Credit Union. They are able to lend money over short periods which banks or building societies may not offer, and charge much lower rates of interest than loan sharks or other, legal providers such as 'payday loan' companies.
- If you would like to discuss your finances with an expert, you can speak to our partners at the Bromley by Bow Centre. They can give advice on a range of issues including checking on what benefits you are entitled to and advice on how to approach your creditors directly to negotiate your debts. Contact your local housing centre for a referral.
- You can check the Consumer Credit Register to find out if someone offering you money is registered as a lender. If they're not on the list, they're a loan shark!
There are also simple measures you can take if you become a victim of the loan sharks. Always remember, it is not a crime to borrow from a loan shark. Victims are sometimes threatened with the suggestion that they will be prosecuted if they do not meet repayments, but these are empty threats.
- You can report a loan shark by calling 0300 555 2222, texting LOAN SHARK plus your message to 60003 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Remember, a loan shark has lent money to you illegally and has no legal right to get the money back. If you report a loan shark, you will be reporting a crime and you may find that you never have to repay money you have borrowed.
For more advice on loan sharks, see this DirectGov page
for advice and details of other agencies who can provide assistance.
You can also visit the Stop Loan Sharks Facebook page
, follow them on Twitter
, and watch the 60-second YouTube video below made by the Office of Fair Trading which gives basic advice to follow. The Stop Loans Sharks team also have their own YouTube channel, with case studies showing the impact of illegal lending, which can be found here