Beware of loan sharks

A loan shark is someone who runs an unlicensed money lending business. They break the law and go knocking door-to-door using intimidation, threats and violence to get their money repaid.

Sadly, they're operating on our estates and neighbourhoods now. Please don't use them. 

If you're struggling financially, it can be all too tempting to use a loan shark to get access to some fast cash.

A loan shark might seem friendly at first - but borrowing from them is never a good idea - there will always be another option.

There are many risks to borrowing from a loan shark:

  • You pay far more in interest than you would through any legal borrowing
  • You could be harassed or threatened if you get behind on your payments
  • You can easily get in a vicious cycle of debt - borrowing more and more money to repay one loan with another, creating debts that you'll never be able to repay.

How to spot one

A loan shark will offer you a cash loan but will give you little if anything in the way of paperwork - like a credit agreement or record of payments. They won't give you information on interest rates for what you're borrowing, tell you what you owe or when you will finish paying.

They may take your benefit or bank card as security on the loan. They might even increase the debt on the loan or add other charges for no reason or without warning - even if you're making regular payments and they will often refuse to allow you to settle your debt.

And there's a danger they may resort to intimidation, threats or violence to get their money.

Report them

If you have borrowed money from a loan shark, you haven't broken the law - they have!

Any lender who harasses you is breaking the law. If you know of loan sharks near you or you've taken a loan from one of them and you're worried, report them.

You can do it online at the Stop Loan Sharks website, calling them 24/7 on  0300 555 222, sending a text with your message to 07860 022 116 or you can send them an email.

Their specially trained staff investigate and prosecutes illegal money lender and can also provide you with emotional and practical support if you are borrowing from a loan shark.

If you, your family or your home is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.


If your income is low, you have a poor credit rating or you only need a small amount of money for a short while, there are reputable lenders you can turn to instead of loan sharks. Notts and Lincs Credit Union promote affordable lending - and you can borrow from as little as £100.

And please talk to us. We offer FREE debt advice and will always do our best to help you. Find out more here: Help managing your rent