Loan shark worries on Blue Monday? We’re still here to help

Being involved with a loan shark can have a huge negative impact on a person’s emotional wellness, physical, and mental health.

We know it can be a frightening experience owing money to a loan shark, but it’s important to get help quickly as the debt won’t go away and the illegal lender will keep coming back for more money.

Loan sharks are not your friends – these criminals are highly manipulative and want you under their control. They often resort to using harassment, intimidation, threats and violence to force people to keep paying.

The COVID-19 outbreak has meant loan sharks have been unable to find and snare their victims at traditional places such as the pub or the school gates. These criminals are now using social media to plug their illicit activities and prey on vulnerable people who have lost their jobs or part of their income.

Spotting and avoiding loan sharks

If you’re in need of an urgent loan or financial support, be wary of anyone that fits the criteria below.

Remember, if in doubt, check the lender out!

Anyone lending money must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can check the register here.

If you have already borrowed from a loan shark, the important thing to remember is you are not in trouble and there is help available.

Here are some of the tell-tale signs to look out for:

⚠️ No paperwork – Paperwork makes something seem more legitimate, and loan sharks avoid it at all costs! If you’re taking out a loan, make sure you always get a credit agreement or have a record of payments.

⚠️ Cash loans or bank transfers – Loan sharks often use unregulated and illegitimate ways of lending money but during the lockdown, they may use bank transfers to avoid getting caught on the street.

⚠️ Refusing to give you information about the loan – Most loan sharks will avoid giving you clear details about your loan, such as the interest rate, previous repayments and the total amount you owe.

⚠️ Taking possessions for security – Some loan sharks will take personal possessions, such as a passport or bank cards, to act as security and ensure you make repayments.

⚠️ Loan that keeps growing – Loan sharks may increase the debt or add additional charges at any time, even if you are making regular payments. It’s important you seek help because the debt can spiral out of control very quickly. 

⚠️ Threats of violence – Loan sharks often use intimidation and threats to frighten people into paying back their loan. Some even become violent towards their victims if they fail to pay.

⚠️ Believe you’ve borrowed money from a friend? Sometimes loan sharks pose as friends pretending to help you out. If you are being pressured into borrowing more money and you are paying back more than you owe, we can help you.

Reporting a loan shark

If you have been affected by loan sharks and would like information and support, contact us for help. Our trained staff can provide specialist emotional and practical support to get the loan shark off your back and help you take back control of your life.

You can report the loan shark anonymously or you can speak to a specialist member of our team in the strictest confidence.

We will help go through your options: including reporting the loan shark, guiding you through the investigation process, helping a friend or relative you’re worried about, or information about where you can go to for help and support.

Friends, family, neighbours and community members can be a vital lifeline to those involved with loan sharks. If you are worried that someone you know may be a victim of illegal money lending, reassure them that Stop Loan Sharks and support services are still there to help and direct them to sources of support.

If you believe you have borrowed from a loan shark, give us a call on 0300 555 2222 or talk to us on Live Chat in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

If you feel unsafe and feel that you are in immediate danger, always contact the police via 999.

Other sources of help

StepChange Debt Charity provide free, impartial debt advice and solutions to anyone struggling with debt problems.

Citizens Advice provide free, confidential and impartial advice on a wide range of issues including benefits and tax credits, debt, housing, employment, and much more.

Samaritans provides emotional support for anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgment or pressure.

Mind is a mental health charity that provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

Credit Unions provide access to affordable loans, secure savings and financial advice and assistance. Find your local Credit Union.