Frequently Asked Questions

We understand you probably have many questions about loan sharks and the investigation process, and we’re always happy to help. Please feel free to read our information pages and when you’re ready to talk, call us on our 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222 or start a live chat with us by clicking on the chat icon in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

How do I report a loan shark?

You can use our secure online form to report a loan shark or call the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 confidential helpline anytime, day or night on 0300 555 2222. One of our team will answer the call, these do not go through to a call centre. Our officers are fully trained to help people affected by illegal money lending.

I don’t feel comfortable talking on the phone. Is there an alternative way to contact you? 

You can email us or contact us through Live Chat, which is available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays). Just click the chat icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to talk online with our expert support team. We can explore your options with you and answer questions about the process.

Can I remain anonymous?

You can remain anonymous, and any information received will be thoroughly investigated and treated in the strictest confidence.

We ask everyone providing information to give their name and contact details, but this is your decision. By providing your contact details, we will be able to fully investigate the loan shark and keep you informed on the case’s progress. We will also answer any questions you might have and advise on the best way forward.

Are you the police?

No, we are not the police. The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is a national law enforcement agency funded by central government to combat loan sharks and provide support for borrowers.  If you have reported the loan shark to the police, you must also tell us as we will investigate.

What happens when I contact the team?

You can contact us in the first instance by phone, email, Live Chat or via our website form.

When you contact us, a member of our team will ask you a series of questions to understand what has happened to you, how you have been affected, and the best way for us to support you. We will assess your situation and provide you with advice or information to answer any immediate questions you may have.

If needed, we can also allocate you with your own LIAISE officer who will provide you with practical and emotional support. They will keep you informed on the progress of the case and support you throughout the investigation process.

Will the loan shark know it’s me that has reported them?

Any information received will be treated in the strictest of confidence. The loan shark won’t know we’re investigating them. If we do need to get in touch with you for any reason, we will be extremely discreet.

Our LIAISE officers meet people in their homes or in a safe place in the community to offer confidential support on a range of safety, practical and emotional issues.

Will I get into trouble borrowing from a loan shark?

You are not in trouble if you have borrowed from a loan shark. It is the lender that is committing a criminal offence, not you. We will support you if you are affected by this crime.

Won’t it make matters worse if I report the lender?

We are here to help keep you and your family safe. Bad things happen when people don’t report loan sharks. Any information given will be treated in the strictest confidence.

What do you advise people to do after they’ve made a report but are still paying?

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide whether or not to carry on paying while the investigation is ongoing. However, if the loan shark turns up at your address for payment and you feel in immediate danger, please call the police on 999.

Can the loan shark take me to court?

The person you owe money to may take you to the county court. This is a civil court, not a criminal court. If you receive court paperwork in the form of a county court claim, charging order or statutory demand, you need to treat it seriously and respond to it. If you are unsure of what to do, you should seek expert debt advice. You also need to report your suspicions to the IMLT so the lender can be investigated and possible enforcement action taken. In the meantime, any court judgements would need to be paid as per your court order.  

What support and protection do you offer victims and their families?

We make sure victims are given the best advice and support from the moment they report the crime, during the investigation and through to the sentencing of the loan shark. So always call the police on 999 if you are reporting a crime in progress or if someone is in immediate danger. We will also help you access specialist support services by making referrals on your behalf.

What happens if I don’t give a statement?

We may ask you to provide a witness statement if you have made a report about a loan shark. Legally, you do not have to make a statement, but it will help us investigate the loan shark and may make a difference in whether the offender can be brought to justice or not.

We understand this process may be difficult and worrying. Therefore, you will meet with an Investigator from our team. They will discuss any concerns you may have before taking your statement, and support will be provided from your local LIAISE Officer.

How long will the investigation take, and when will the lender be arrested?

It isn’t easy to provide a timescale as to how long the investigation will take. This will depend on the type of case and how complex the matter is.  Our intelligence team will carry out various checks to establish if the lender is authorised or not. The more detailed information you can provide, the better chance we have of making an arrest.

What happens when the investigation ends?

You’ll always be contacted at the end of the investigation if you have provided your contact details. We will inform you of the outcome and provide support for as long as we are needed. Together we will help you get your life and finances back on track.

I have a client who is involved with a loan shark. What can I do to help?

We work with partner agencies to support victims of loan sharks. If you have concerns or suspicions that someone is a victim of illegal money lending, you must act quickly but appropriately and sensitively. You can make a referral and report suspected illegal money lending activity to the IMLT. Read more about how we support partner agencies.

If a client or tenant is in immediate danger, call the police on 999 straight away.

You can contact us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on our confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222. Our Live Chat service is open Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm. In addition, we have local LIAISE officers who work in your region that can help support the victim.

I’m worried a friend is involved with a loan shark. What can I do to help?

If a friend or family member is involved with a loan shark, we have some advice and tips to help you support them.

If they’ve been threatened by the loan shark and are at high risk of harm, you should call the police immediately on 999. We want to protect people before anything happens to them. We can take steps to safeguard your friend and take them to a place of safety.   

If you have any other questions about loan sharks, please get in touch.

Do you give grants to organisations?

Grants are available from the Stop Loan Sharks Community Fund which reopens in April 2022. The funding comes from money seized from convicted loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Please email us if you would like to be added to our mailing list to be the first to find out about grant funding.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in illegal money lending?

We know from research it takes on average nearly three years for a victim to come forward for help after borrowing from a loan shark. So it’s too early to say whether the pandemic has resulted in more people resorting to loans from illegal lenders.

We are aware of loan sharks targeting people through social media platforms and dating sites.

If you’ve lost your job or had a drop in income because of COVID-19, please don’t turn to loan sharks, as they will only make matters worse. Instead find out about financial support available.

Do you give out loans?

No, we do not provide loans. Please get in touch with your local credit union if you need to borrow money. Always check you are getting your full benefit entitlement you can use the Money Helper Benefits Calculator to do this Benefits Calculator (moneyhelper.org.uk)