Loan shark trying to collect money from housewife at  door Image: Adobe Stock

Social media posts to give advice on avoid loan sharks

Unscrupulous loan sharks are being targeted by a national campaign aimed at clamping down on illegal money lenders.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team‘s (IMLT) social media campaign gives users advice on how to avoid falling victim to loan sharks, as well as reporting illegal money lending in their community.

The campaign began on 5th December and will run until Wednesday, 12th December. The content will consist of tweets, advice articles and media links being shared from the Stop Loan Sharks Facebook and Twitter accounts

Tony Quigley, head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:

“Loan sharks are a scourge on our communities, taking advantage of people in desperate situations and trapping them in a cycle of debt and misery. This time of year is especially profitable for them as they prey of people trying to cope with the pressures of Christmas.

“If you do need to borrow this Christmas, do so from a responsible, ethical source – such as a credit union and avoid turning to illegal money lenders.”

There is also a photo caption competition running on the team’s Facebook page. Users with the best caption ideas for Sid the Shark and Glenda the Lenda photos will win a prize. The campaign will also be accompanied by the hashtag #SLSWeek18.

What defines a Loan Shark?

Any person lending money should have a consumer credit licence from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Licensed lenders have to comply with legal obligations in dealing with consumers, including the use of official paperwork and fair collection methods.

Loan sharks operate illegally without the correct permissions from the FCA. These criminals often take benefit or bank cards as security and resort to intimidation and violence if victims default.

A loan shark might:

  • Offer little or no paperwork, such as a credit agreement or record of payments
  • Refuse to give information, such as the interest rate or how much you owe
  • Take items as security, such as passports, bank cards or driving licences
  • Increase the debt or add additional charges at any time
  • Refuse to allow you to settle your debt
  • Get nasty – they might resort to intimidation, threats or violence

Those needing a loan should to check if the lender is legal before borrowing. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) keeps details of all authorised lenders.

If a lender isn’t listed as having a current authorisation to lend money, then the Illegal Money Lending Team will investigate. 

Stop Loan Sharks Logo Image: England Illegal Money Lending Team

Tips to protecting yourself against Loan Sharks this Christmas

  • Save money regularly, so you are not in urgent need of a loan
  • Do not accept cash loans, even if the lender seems friendly or helpful
  • Search the FCA Financial Services register to check if the lender is legal
  • If you need to borrow money, credit unions are a safer alternative than borrowing from a loan shark. Visit this website to find your nearest credit union.

The Stop Loan Sharks Project has already secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity. This has led to over 330 years’ worth of custodial sentences for loan sharks. They have written off over £74 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.

If you have been the victim of a loan shark, you can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222. The lines are open around the clock throughout the festive season.

You can also make a report online.

Get involved with the campaign and help raise awareness of loan sharks in your community!

Download the Stop Loan Sharks Communications Toolkit.