What Are Loan Sharks?
A loan shark is an illegal money lender. When you first talk to them, they can seem like a great option if you are struggling financially; they are friendly and chatty, and they can offer you a loan no matter how bad your credit is. Because they are operating outside of the law they can offer anyone a loan at whatever interest rate they want (it has been known for them to charge as high as 719,000% APR!), and do anything they want to get it back. It also means that they tend to target the most vulnerable people in our society. According to a BBC report, there are around 300,000 people currently in debt to loan sharks.
Quite often people may not even realise that they are in debt to a loan shark, as far as they are aware, they simply borrowed some money from a friend of a friend. That is until they fall behind on repayments. The threats of violence stop people complaining and so these criminals can continue to get away with it.
There are reports of a woman having paid back £88,000 after borrowing just £500!
They ‘encourage’ you to take out a new debt in order to repay your older one, and you end up in a terrible spiral of debt, that you simply cannot get out of.
Although not always easy to spot, there are certain things that differentiate loan sharks from regular lenders;
- Gives you no paperwork
- Refuses to give you the interest rate
- Takes items as security
- Refuse to let you settle your debt
- Resort to threats, intimidation or violence
If you are dealing with anyone in relation to your financial situation (including us) make sure that they are on the Financial Conduct Authority’s register, obviously, a loan shark will never be regulated by the FCA.
If any lender (authorised or not) harasses you, they are breaking the law. They may try telling you that you will get into trouble for using them. This isn’t true.
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How To Report a Loan Shark
The good news? If you are in debt to a loan shark, you have absolutely no obligation to repay the debt as it’s illegal! So, report them!
If you think you are in immediate danger, contact the police immediately!