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Loan sharks - be aware of illegal money lenders

Loan sharks are illegal lenders of money, who may target people with financial worries.

Borrowing from a loan shark can be very risky and the interest rates can be far greater than that of legal borrowing. The money advice service has information on loan sharks including how to spot them, this video explains more.

A loan shark might:

  • offer little or no paperwork, such as a credit agreement or records of payments
  • refuse to give detailed information, such as the interest rate or the amount owed
  • take items as security, such as passports, bank cards or driving licences
  • increase the debt or add additional charges without notice and at any time
  • refuse to allow you to settle your debt
  • resort to intimidation, threats or violence.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) keeps details of all authorised lenders. If lenders are not on their official list, do not borrow money from them and don’t let them into your home. The FCA Financial Services Register is where you can check the authorised list of lenders.

If you, family members or friends are concerned about loan sharks, it can be reported via email to or complete an online form at There is also a 24/7 confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222.

If you or someone you know is struggling with debt, our team of debt advisors offer impartial, regulated and free debt advice. You can contact the team on 01952 217251, or email

StepChange and Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can also help with advice.

Our Money Matters team can offer advice on money and benefits. In the COVID-19 Support and advice section, we have listed the questions and answers we are getting asked most often. They can be contacted on 01952 217234 or you can email

15th July 2020