Loan sharks

This year more than ever, you may need to borrow some money for a short period of time to help you get through to your next payday, but it’s important that you always borrow from a genuine certified lender and avoid loan sharks. Borrowing money from loan sharks can be extremely dangerous.

What is a loan shark?
Loan sharks are people who illegally loan out money, mainly targeting low-income families. Whilst they will seem friendly at first, borrowing money from them is never a good idea.
If you borrow money from a loan shark, you could be at risk of paying far more interest than you would through any legal borrowing, meaning you may make larger payments for a longer period of time. You may also be subjected to intimidation, violence and threats if you fall behind on repayments.

How to spot them?
As loan sharks are illegal lenders, there are many ways to spot them. Here are some of the tell-tale signs that can help you identify a loan shark before you borrow money from them:

  • They will never advertise their services, and mainly get business through word of mouth.
  • Loan sharks will never offer any paperwork such as a credit agreement or record of payments. Paperwork is extremely important if issues do arise.
  • They will keep you in the dark on details like interest rates or how much you owe.
  • They may take items as security, like passports, bank cards or driving licences to ‘ensure you pay your debt’.
  • They will increase the debt on add more charges at any time – remember, their main goal is to get as much money from you as they can!
  • They will refuse to settle your debt.
  • They may resort to intimidation, threats or violence and demand large repayments from you.

What to do if you’re approached by a Loan Shark?
If you have been approached by someone you think is a loan shark, you can report them on the gov.uk website – Report a loan shark – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). If you are being harassed by a loan shark or are in immediate danger, please call 999.

It’s important you always use a legitimate lender when borrowing money. One sure-fire way to see if someone is a legal lender is to check with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA keeps a list of all authorised lenders on the FCA Financial Services Register, so you can easily check from the comfort of your own home.

If you spot a loan shark or you’ve borrowed money from one you can report them anonymously to the England Illegal Money Lending team:

Telephone: 0300 555 2222 (24-hour service)
Text a report to 07860 022 116

What to do if you need to lend money?
If you’re looking for a reputable place to borrow money from, a Credit Union is an option. Credit unions, where community members pool their savings to lend to one another, are a reliable source for loans and usually have lower interest rates. You will have to become a member and they may ask you to save an amount before you can borrow from them.

One other thing to check is that you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to. Many people are missing out on benefits that they are eligible for without even knowing it! To check, follow this link – Benefits calculators – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

We have a Money Advice Team available to assess your needs and support you with the relevant applications please contact 0151 373 2560 to make an appointment.

The government also has loans and grants you may be able to apply for, like an interest-free budgeting loan from the Social Fund.

If you are struggling and in need of financial support there are a range of options available through Cheshire West and Chester Council, click here for more information.

For more information or to see if you are eligible for a loan from the fund, click here.

For more budgeting advice click here.