Knowsley Council is working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks.
Help is at hand for people who are struggling financially or have been the victim of illegal money lenders.
You or someone you know may have debt problems or have been financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Spot the signs
It can be difficult to know if a relative, friend, neighbour or colleague is in debt to a loan shark.
Signs to look for include:
- Loan with no paperwork
- Extortionate interest rates
- Use of bank or benefit cards as security and threats of violence.
If someone is lending you money they must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Search their database to see if the lender is legal or call the IMLT on 0300 555 2222 for support.
Loan sharks on social media
Recent statistics show one in five victims met their loan shark on social media. Loan sharks are increasingly using platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, to advertise illegal loans and target potential victims.
Loan sharks have been known to advertise in community groups and on local selling pages. They may seem friendly and accommodating, but their behaviour can quickly change, and you might be harassed or threatened if you get behind with your repayments.
How to protect yourself from loan sharks online
Know who you’re dealing with. If you’ve only ever met someone online or are unsure of the legitimacy of a lender, take some time to do a bit more research.
Check the lender is authorised by the FCA. If not, don’t borrow from them – report to the Stop Loan Sharks team.
Lenders must carry out credit checks to make sure borrowers can afford to pay back their loans. You should never hand over your bank details to strangers, even if they lure you with attractive offers. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Beware of any requests for your details or money. Loan sharks may ask for copies of your passport or pictures of your house, the street and your house number. Never send money or give card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.
Help and support
If you suspect someone may be a loan shark or they are acting inappropriately, you can report them anonymously to www.stoploansharks.co.uk or by calling the Stop Loan Sharks Helpline on 0300 555 2222.
Alternatively, you can email the team firstname.lastname@example.org or access support via live chat on the website Monday to Friday between 9am5pm.
Stop Loan Sharks App
Free to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play or scan the QR code. The app includes a contact form and phone number to report loan sharks, as well as information to help victims of illegal money lending to get support. Users can receive push notifications about loan shark arrests and cases in their area.