How to spot a loan shark this Christmas

Do you know how to spot a loan shark this Christmas?

This week sees the launch of a social media campaign to give people advice on how to avoid falling victim to loan sharks and report illegal money lending in their area.  The campaign organised by the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) urges families not to borrow from loan sharks amid fears a small loan could lead to massive repayments in the New Year.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said “Christmas can be a difficult time for some families; the cost and added pressures may tempt some people into borrowing from a loan shark.  This timely campaign will hopefully make people think twice before using an illegal money lender.  We are encouraging those in the grip of a loan shark to come forward and speak to us; our confidential Stop Loan Sharks hotline will be active over Christmas and New Year.  Loan sharks are criminals who prey on vulnerable communities and fleece their victims out of hard earned cash, often through intimidation and violence. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, we urge you to seek help by contacting us on 0300 555 2222 or visit”

The IMLT’s word of warning is: it’s not about what’s under the tree this Christmas but who’s around it – don’t let a loan shark be one of those people.  With an estimated 310,000 households in the UK borrowing from loan sharks every year, the team are warning people to avoid unauthorised lenders at all costs amid fears that illegal loans could result in hard up families repaying the lender into the New Year and beyond.

How to spot a loan shark this Christmas

A loan shark might:

The IMLT – a national team that investigate and prosecute loan sharks – work closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), local Trading Standards and the Police to crackdown on illegal money lending.  Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams 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 £72.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,000 victims.

Follow the IMLT the Stop Loan Sharks Facebook page and Twitter account for tweets, advice articles and media links, and if you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, we urge you to seek help by contacting the IMLT on 0300 555 2222 or visit

Need help with the cost of your Christmas?

Credit Unions are a much safer alternative than borrowing from a loan shark.  An affordable FAIRshare Loan could help you this Christmas.  Your manageable repayments include a saving amount, so when you’ve paid back your loan, you’ll have saved money towards next Christmas too!  For more information & to apply online click here.