DON’T GET BITTEN BY A LOAN SHARK THIS CHRISTMAS!
Citizens Advice Carlisle & Eden are working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to steer residents away from borrowing from loan sharks in the lead up to Christmas.
To lend money lawfully you have to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). People who lend money without being FCA authorised are breaking the law. They are known as loan sharks.
Loan sharks normally appear friendly at first, but this behaviour soon changes once monies are owed.
Christmas is a prime time for loan sharks – these criminals are swimming around on housing estates, looking for the next vulnerable person to exploit.
It’s easy to fall in to the grip of a loan shark; they seem like friendly people at first, someone who you might refer to as a close neighbour or colleague. You might find yourself short for money during the festive season, but borrowing from a loan shark could result in you paying back significantly more with extortionate interest rates and threats included.
Loan sharks often work from home, charge very high rates of interest and don’t give you much paperwork to confirm the arrangements they have made with you leaving you in the dark, not knowing how much money you owe (or the interest charged).
Loan sharks often take other illegal action to collect the money they have lent you, such as threatening violence or taking away your credit cards or valuables. In extreme cases, they have been known to force non-payers into prostitution and drug dealing. Their intimidating behaviour can leave many frightened to leave their own home.
If a loan shark threatens you or acts in a violent way, contact the police straight away.
If you borrowed money from someone who isn’t FCA authorised, you haven’t broken the law, they have.
You can find out whether a money lender is authorised by checking the register on the FCA website at www.fca.org.uk.
We understand it can sometimes be scary to ask for help, but if you call the England Illegal Money Lending Team’s hotline on 0300 555 2222, you can speak to a member of the team anonymously or in confidence. They are there to help, not judge, and will let you know what your options are so you can decide what to do.
You can also email the Illegal Money Lending Team at email@example.com or text loan shark and your message to 60003.
In Scotland, you can speak in confidence to the national Trading Standards Scotland team to report an illegal money lender on 0800 074 0878, or report it online to them at www.tsscot.co.uk.
The advisers can give you advice about your situation. The information you provide helps them to take action to stop illegal money lending.
You can find more information about loan sharks and reporting them on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) can help people who have been a victim of a loan shark. The national team are a law enforcement agency who work with local Trading Standards authorities across the country to investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related offences. The team have previously prosecuted loan sharks for other forms of criminality, including drug offences, kidnap and even rape.
The 50-strong team are made up of Investigators who work endlessly to bring loan sharks to justice and LIAISE officers who protect and support victims, and work with a number of partner agencies to raise general awareness of the issue.
The IMLT have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 328 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off nearly £72.5 million worth of illegal debt and have helped over 27,000 victims.
You are urged to never borrow money from someone if you:
- Have been provided with no or very little paperwork on loans
- Have had debts randomly increase or have had additional amounts added to a loan unexpectedly.
- Have personal items taken as security on a loan (passport, driving license, bank cards)
- Have been subject to intimidation and threats by the money lender.
You can check if someone is authorised to lend money by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority’s website and searching for a company, person or postcode through their Financial Services Register
To get help with debt and budgeting, visit your local Citizens Advice office. If you need a cash loan or would like to open a savings account in preparation for Christmas, visit https://www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk/ to find your nearest credit union.
To report a loan shark:
- Call the 24-hour confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222
- Text a report to 078600 22116
- Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Private message the team at www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
If you are in debt or you are thinking about borrowing from a loan shark, get advice first, for example, at a Citizens Advice.
The Money Advice Service is a free, independent service. Their website (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) has lots of useful information about borrowing and managing your money.
Go to their website for more information about: