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Loan sharks: How to spot them and who to tell

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You might think that loan sharks can only be found in television soaps and movies – but they are much closer than you think.

Loan sharks are a menace in all communities, and we want to warn you of the dangers and what they can do to avoid getting caught in their trap. 

Loan sharks are illegal lenders who target vulnerable people and make huge profits from charging extortionate interest rates.

They’re known for sometimes using violence and intimidation to enforce repayment on loans, but the shark could be anyone – another parent at your children’s school, your next-door neighbour or a work colleague. 

Loan sharks are very cunning and manipulative people.

They will often befriend their victims, offering to help them out with a quick fix loan, but the consequences of borrowing from these unscrupulous lenders can be devastating.

Don’t be fooled by these predators – they can quickly turn nasty and threaten you with violence if you don’t meet their demands.

Warning signs to indicate that you could be dealing with an illegal lender include giving no paperwork upon the agreement of a loan, refusing to give detailed information about a loan, intimidation and threats, taking items such as a bank card or passport until the debt is paid, and taking things from you if you do not pay on time.

“If you have borrowed money from a loan shark, you are not in trouble”

England Illegal Money Lending Team

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is a dedicated team of specialists aimed at tackling loan sharks across England and providing specialist support to their victims.

Working alongside police forces and local authorities, they have helped thousands of people escape the clutches of these criminals and wiped out nearly £90 million worth of illegal debt.

If you have borrowed money from a loan shark, or if you have been paying back such a loan, you are not in trouble for this. It is the lender who will have committed a criminal offence, not you.

If you or someone you know is affected by illegal money lending, you can contact Stop Loan Sharks for support on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk.

Live chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Credit unions are a safe ethical option for borrowing and saving money.

They’re local, friendly and not-for-profit.

Find out more at www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk.

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