Quids in! Guide launched to raise awareness of loan sharks

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has partnered with Quids in! to release a special edition 8-page magazine, available in dual language Bengali-English, warning people about the dangers of borrowing money from loan sharks.

The magazine is free of charge and primarily aimed at low-income social tenants in Tower Hamlets. It is written in Quids in!’s accessible style and includes advice and information about how to spot the signs of illegal money lending and the support available for people affected by this crime. 

Quids in! Magazine is published by Clean Slate Training & Employment, a not-for-profit social enterprise. It creates and supports paid work for people facing barriers to jobs, helps them to manage their money better and shows them where to find help and savings using the internet. The magazine provides advice for those who are struggling with their finances and may be at risk of being targeted by unscrupulous lenders.

The guide has been funded by proceeds of crime money which has been confiscated from convicted loan sharks following successful prosecutions.

A comic strip has also been designed to highlight the dangers of dealing with loan sharks, who are motivated by their own greed and will often trap victims into a vicious cycle of spiralling debts through threats, violence and intimidation.

The story shows ‘Joan Clark the Loan Shark’ offering loans at extremely high interest rates with no credit checks.

A loan shark is someone who lends money as a business without the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Loan sharks are unregulated money lenders that prey on vulnerable people and charge extortionate interest rates. They often resort to using harassment, intimidation, threats and violence to pressure people into paying back loans.

Signs to look out for when dealing with loan sharks:

  • Won’t provide you with receipts or proof of payments.
  • Increase the debt or add additional amounts to it without your permission.
  • Refuse to give information, such as the interest rate or how much you still owe.
  • Not allow you to settle your debt.
  • They may resort to intimidation, threats or violence.
  • May suggest other forms of payment such as sexual favours.
  • Pretend to be your friend but quickly turn nasty when money is owed.

If you have already borrowed from a loan shark, the important thing to remember is you haven’t broken the law and there is help available.

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks prey on the vulnerable within our communities, with victims trapped in a cycle of debt with extortionate interest rates and the very real threat of violence and intimidation.

“We want to make sure people are aware of where to go for support and encourage anyone who has fallen victim to loan sharks to report it as soon as possible on our confidential helpline or via live chat on our website.”

Lisa Woodman, Head of Business Development at Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC, said: “We were thrilled to receive funding from the England Illegal Money Lending Team to enable us to produce a Quids in! Guide about loan sharks, in dual language, English and Bengali.

“Over 5000 copies have been printed and distributed to low-income social tenants in Tower Hamlets, to raise awareness of the risks of borrowing money from an illegal lender, with a clear call to action for those who have been targeted.

“We also partnered with social landlord Poplar Harca, who very much welcomed the opportunity to be able to distribute an accessible, trusted magazine, with clear messaging, to some of their most vulnerable tenants.”

Anyone who believes they may be involved with a loan shark or suspect that one is operating in their area can access confidential advice and support by calling the Stop Loan Sharks 24 Hour Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or filling out an online form. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

You can read the Quids in! guide about loan sharks here.