JAFLAS - Turning Law into Justice   

Turning Law into Justice

Loan Sharks and how to deal with them.

When you borrow money from a loan shark the only person committing an offence is the loan shark, it is not an offence to borrow money as the legal requirement to hold an Office of Fair Trading licence relates to the lender only

Lenders may tell you that if you "squeal on them" you will be in trouble, but you have not committed any offence.  We know-we are licensed to advise on money matters.

Lending money without a licence is illegal and carries stiff penalties and injunctions with penal orders attached to them can be obtained very easily  by Trading Standards to protect you.  Loan sharks fear such action as it interrupts thier trade. Prison is a very real prospect for a loan shark.


Don't threaten to report lenders, do it in private and the lender will be contacted by Trading Standards with a warrant.


Don't live in fear, get help now, contact your local trading standards office or the police on 999 if an emergency is imminent.

Report a loan shark in England

If you need to report a loan shark in confidence:

  • phone 0300 555 2222
  • text LOAN SHARK and your details to 60003
email the Stop Loan Sharks team

Additionally, high interest rates can be challenged even if the lender is licensed, so rates such as 2500% offered by many television advertisers can be challenged as an unconscionable credit bargain and the court can reduce the rate to a sensible level. 


These lenders rely on you not being bothered and being too afraid of the "consequences".  There aren't any consequences for you, only the lender.


If you live in a council or rented house, you are especially at risk as lenders prowl council estates looking for tenants to sell loans to, knowing they have no money to pay for legal help or advice.  Well with us on your side you don't need any money, contact us now using the contact button or call your trading standards office for help during office hours. Please read on for further information from the Office of fair Trading.

Always remember: - you have done nothing wrong.. 


What is a loan shark?

A loan shark is an unlicensed moneylender. Licensed moneylenders are regulated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and must follow the OFT's codes of practice.

Because they're not licensed, loan sharks operate outside the law. If you borrow from them it's likely you'll:

  • get a loan on very bad terms
  • pay an extortionate rate of interest (rates as high as 131,000 per cent APR have been recorded)
  • be harassed if you get behind with your repayments
  • be pressured into borrowing more from them to repay one debt with another

If you have borrowed from an illegal money lender, you haven't committed a crime - they have, and they could receive a prison sentence. 

How to spot a loan shark

Loan sharks will often:

  • start out being friendly - their behaviour only changes when repayments are missed
  • offer little or no paperwork
  • increase the debt or add additional amounts
  • refuse to give the borrower vital information, such as the interest rate or how much they still owe
  • take items as security - for example, passports, bank cards or driving licences
  • resort to intimidation, threats or violence

How to find out if a lender is licensed

The Consumer Credit Public Register lists everyone with an OFT licence. It also lists everyone who has applied for one or has had one taken away or suspended.

You can get basic information from the register free of charge, including trading names and the activities for which a business is licensed.

To search the public register, telephone 020 7211 8608020 7211 8608 between 9.30 am and 4.00 pm Monday to Friday or do an online search using the link below.

If a lender isn't listed as having a current licence, don't borrow money from them.

What to do if you have borrowed from a loan shark

Social media and Stop Loan Sharks

See what the Stop Loan Sharks team are up to on Twitter and Facebook

Loan sharks sometimes frighten people by saying they'll be prosecuted and even sent to prison if they don't pay up. This can't happen – an unlicensed lender has no legal right to recover the debt. If you have borrowed money from a loan shark, there's no legal obligation for you to pay them back.

You can report a loan shark in confidence to an Illegal Money Lending Team.

If you live in England

  • call 0300 555 2222
  • text LOAN SHARK and the details you want to pass on to 60003
  • send an email to [email protected]

If you live in Wales

If you live in Scotland

What to do if you're being harassed

Any lender - licensed or unlicensed - who harasses you is breaking the law. You should report any loan shark to the appropriate Illegal Money Lending team and contact the police if you are in immediate danger.

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