Loan Sharks

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Most individuals and organisations must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’) to lend money in the UK. The term loan shark refers to individuals who illegally lend money without FCA authorisation. Doing so is a criminal offence. To find out if a money lender is authorised, check the register on the FCA website

Loan sharks often: 

  • Charge very high rates of interest 
  • Do not provide paperwork confirming loan agreements 
  • Work from home 
  • Have lots of customers within the local area 
  • Lend money through word of mouth 

Loan sharks are also known to take illegal action to collect money they have lent plus the excessive interest they charge. This can include: 

  • Threatening violence 
  • Taking bank cards and other valuables 
  • Forcing non-payers into prostitution and drug dealing 
  • Informal, one-off loans between friends and/or family members are not against the law as this type of money lending is not required to have FCA authorisation. However even where informal loans are concerned, the money lender is not permitted to do anything illegal, in order to collect the money owed, such as making threats of violence for non-payment. 

If you are threatened by someone who lends you money and/or they are violent towards you, contact the police. Remember if you have borrowed money from a loan shark you have NOT broken the law, they have. 

If you believe a money lender is operating illegally without FCA authorisation, the Illegal Money Lending team can be contacted: 

The Illegal Money Lending team can provide confidential advice and any information provided will help them take action to stop illegal money lending in the future. 

Read more information about loan sharks and reporting them on the GOV.UK website

It is expected that the current cost of living crisis will see more and more households struggling financially, especially over the winter period. If this is the case and you are considering borrowing money from a loan shark, seek advice first.

JRHT offers a free, confidential and impartial Money & Benefits Advice service to all residents and staff. Advisers can assist with identifying other forms of support that may be available. To speak to an adviser or book and appointment please contact JRHT’s Money & Benefit Advice service on 0800 5870211 or at