Loan sharks

Don't get bitten by a loan shark

What is a loan shark? 

Loan sharks are illegal moneylenders who often charge very high interest rates. They often target people who need to borrow money and can't access it from legal sources.

Loan sharks often take illegal action to collect the money they have lent you, such as threatening violence or taking away your credit cards. In extreme cases, they have been known to force non-payers into prostitution and drug dealing. 

If a loan shark threatens you or acts in a violent way, contact the police straight away.


Warning signs that could indicate someone is a loan shark:

  • You were offered a cash loan
  • A lack of paperwork
  • A lack of clear information about the loan such as the interest rate and repayment terms
  • Lending with no checks (no credit checks or affordability assessments)
  • Taking your personal possessions as security
  • Threatening and violent behaviour
  • Someone you met recently offers to lend you money

Spotting a loan shark may not always be straightforward. A loan shark could be an acquaintance who seems friendly and helpful at first, lulling you into a false sense of security before they then take a more intimidating and threatening approach. 

Anyone lending money must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Check if a lender is registered by searching the Financial Services register online. 


Further help

For further crime prevention advice contact your local Crime Prevention Officer on 101.  

How to report a loan shark

Find out more on the Citizens Advice website.


Leaflet for Printing

Please note that the information available in the PDF leaflet is the same as the information (text version) above it. This leaflet has been made available in order to be printed and displayed for educational and support purposes.

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