This week, October 24th-October 31st, is national ‘Stop Loan Sharks’ week. This is a national public awareness campaign organised by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (the ‘loan sharks team’) aimed at raising awareness of how to spot loan shark activity, how to stop loan shark activity and how to report loan shark activity.
In their own words:
“Every year the England Illegal Money Lending Team run Stop Loan Sharks Week. The aim is to get a message out through all our partners. This year’s theme is ‘People pretending to be something they are not’.
We have picked this theme as 56% of people we have supported over the past year believed the illegal lender was their friend at the time at which they took out the loan. We want to encourage people to question if this is the case.
We have also heard of lenders pretending to be associated with legal lenders that have closed and want to highlight that there are places to go to check”.
Lending can cause people to feel a bit self conscious or embarrassed; especially if they feel they aren’t able to make repayments and start to feel under pressure from lenders. However, illegal lending, ‘loan shark activity’*, can involve much more than embarrassment.
It can also happen to anyone. According to recent research…
- 48% of borrowers were in some form of employment;
- 60% of borrowers went without food or fuel to repay a loan; and,
- 1 in 5 borrowers didn’t tell their partner.
Asking for help can be scary. People don’t often choose to borrow from an illegal lender, but many might take up the offer of a small loan from someone who appears to be a well-meaning friend. False friends can make it seem like they are doing you a favour, but quickly turn nasty.
Illegal lenders are masters of disguise and can draw you in under false pretences. They might tell you they work or worked for a credible organisation but the truth is they are hiding behind a fake mask of respectability. You can check your lender is authorised with a quick look on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website – at https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register . Taking a few minutes to check could be the best decision you ever make.
It can be hard to tell if a relative, friend, neighbour or colleague is involved with a loan shark. If you think you know someone who could be involved with a loan shark, or you think you have been targeted, call @SLSEngland on their 24- hour hotline 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk and use their live chat feature.
Finally, a common misconception when reporting a loan shark is that they will find out you’ve talked. This is a myth; the @SLSEngland hotline and live chat feature mentioned above are both anonymous and confidential. Communications are secure and secrecy is guaranteed.
Please remember, by reporting a loan shark you are not only helping yourself get to a better financial situation, you are helping others to not end up in the same position.
Help the loan shark team stop loan sharks. Go to www.stoploansharks.co.uk and find out more about this campaign.
(*a loan with no paperwork, extortionate interest rates, use of bank cards as security and threats of violence).