What is a loan shark?

A loan shark is an unlicensed money lender who hasn’t been authorised by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). 

They often work from home, charge very high interest rates and are unlikely to provide you with any paperwork.

Loan sharks often take illegal action to collect money they’ve lent you, such as making threats, violence or taking away credit cards or valuables. 

How to spot a loan shark

Signs you might be be borrowing from a loan shark are if they: 

  • offered you a cash loan 
  • didn’t give you paperwork 
  • added huge amounts of interest to your loan
  • threatened or harassed you 
  • made you scared of people finding out 
  • took your bank card, passport or other valuables from you 

If someone who has lent you money is threatening or violent, you should contact the police – even if it is someone you know, such as a friend or family member. 

Borrowing from friends and family 

Not all lending needs to be authorised by the FCA – for example informal one-off loans between friends and family against the law. 

Even if a loan is informal, anyone who lends you money can’t do anything illegal when they collect it, such as harassing you. 


Borrowing from legal lenders

There are a lot of ways you can borrow money. Borrowing money can also be called ‘credit’.

 Before you borrow money it’s important to make sure you get the best deal you can and will be able to keep up the repayments. If you don’t keep up the repayments, you could be taken to court and might even lose your home or other valuable possessions.

 If you are finding it difficult to get a loan or credit, you might be able to get a loan from a credit union.

To find a credit union near you and check out what your local credit union offers, you can:

How to check if a lender is authorised? 

You can find out if a money lender is authorised by checking the register on the FCA website at www.fca.org.uk

What to do if you owe money to a loan shark? 

If you’re worried about an illegal money lender, you can speak in confidence to the Illegal Money Lending Hotline on 0300 555 2222. 

You can find more information on reporting loan sharks on the Illegal Money Lending Team website by visiting stoploansharks.co.uk. 


Get free, confidential advice about debt 

If you’re in debt or are thinking of borrowing from a loan shark, get advice first. Get in touch with our debt team on 0808 278 7804 or by making a referral.

Please Note

Our Bolton office will be closed Monday – Wednesday for the foreseeable, we are still open on Thursdays and Fridays.

Should you require advice, you can reach our advice line service on 0808 278 7804.

Emergency contact details for local authorities in both Bury and Bolton are as follows:

Bolton – https://www.bolton.gov.uk/council/emergency-contacts

Bury – https://www.bury.gov.uk/emergencies/emergency-contact-numbers

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

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