What are loan sharks?

Loan sharks prey on the vulnerable and people with gambling problems

Many people have heard the term, but what is a loan shark? Loan sharks are moneylenders not authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority. They typically charge extremely high rates of interest, under illegal conditions. Often if you don’t pay the money back on time, they take illegal action to collect it from you, including threats or acts of violence.

Who do loan sharks target?

People who struggle to take out a loan from official sources such as banks are most at-risk. As a result, people with gambling problems who have already maxed out their credit cards and official loans, or have bad credit scores are targeted more often than the general population.

What are the signs of a gambling problem?

Our quick quiz can give you an idea of whether your gambling may be becoming a problem.

Some of the most common signs include:

  • Financial difficulties and debts
  • Spending more time than intended on gambling
  • Trying to recoup losses by gambling further
  • Spending less time with friends and family, isolating yourself
  • Mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety

Getting into debt is a stressful situation and it can be tempting to contact a loan shark to borrow money. If you’re borrowing money from lenders or family and friends in order to place bets, buy crypto, or other forms of gambling, please get in touch with us for advice. Our services are confidential and free and available to adults across Wales and the South West of England.

How can I avoid loan sharks?

Always check on the FCA website whether the person you are borrowing from is authorised. Borrowing from family and friends informally is legal, but they still can’t harass you or take other illegal action to collect it.

What can I do if I’ve borrowed from a loan shark?

If you are under threat of violence you should contact the police immediately – even if it is someone you know such as a friend or family member.

You can check whether the person you borrowed money from is operating lawfully by checking the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk. If they do not appear on this list, you can report them to the Illegal Money Lending helpline (confidentially) on 0300 555 2222 or reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk.

Further help and advice available

Get in touch with us for free, confidential advice and support for problems with gambling. You can use our web form here: Get Support.

Or if you’d prefer an informal chat or just to email us, contact us on aragamblingservice@recovery4all.co.uk or 0330 1340 286.

For more information about loan sharks, visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk/

The Citizens Advice Bureau also has a wealth of information: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/