Loan sharks are illegal moneylenders who often charge very high interest rates. They may use threats and violence to frighten people who can't pay back their loan.
Illegal money lending is a criminal offence and often sees unlicensed lenders target vulnerable people.
You may have been dealt with by a loan shark if you have ever:
- been offered a cash loan without any paperwork
- been threatened because you couldn't pay
- had your bank card taken away from you, other than by the bank itself
National Trading Standards has set up Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders. The teams are made up of specialist investigators and victim support officers from various backgrounds including trading standards, policing and debt advice.
The team that leads investigations in England is hosted by Birmingham City Council. It works with trading standards services in Thurrock and other local councils.
Bid for money confiscated from loan sharks
Cash confiscated from illegal money lenders can now be used to fund local community projects that help raise awareness of dangers linked to borrowing from loan sharks.
£2,500 is available for projects in Thurrock – we would like to fund as many applications as possible.
To ensure that a number of projects can be funded you can apply up to a maximum of £500 per project idea. You can submit more than one project application but the total per group must not exceed £1,000. The money must be spent by 31 March 2017.
Local residents, charities, community groups, voluntary groups, schools and other statutory agencies that help Thurrock people are invited to send project ideas to the Illegal Money Lending Team in Birmingham. You can apply to have more than one project funded, with a maximum of £500 per project. The total funding for all your project ideas must not be more than £1,000.
Funds can be spent on any new community project that:
- contributes to raising the awareness of the dangers of using loan sharks
- promotes legal, affordable credit options to prevent people from using loan sharks
- promotes better financial management to prevent people from using loan sharks
- prevents crime and disorder by promoting the stop loan sharks message
- benefits those living in the Thurrock area
Funding cannot be used to pay for existing projects, or to pay for staff costs.
Applications must be received by midday on Friday 7 October 2016.
Shortlisting of applications will take place during the week beginning the 10 October and a short summary of each will be placed online to allow public voting on projects that are most deserving of support. Online voting will close at midday on Wednesday 9 November.
There will be a further voting event in Grays Town Centre on Thursday 10 November between 10am and 3pm. The public will be invited to cast their vote to decide whose ideas will get the money. Votes from this event will be added to votes already received online.
Report a loan shark
You can check if a company is authorised to lend money and report loan sharks anonymously. Search the Financial Services Register to check whether companies or individuals are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to lend money.
: 0300 555 2222
You can also send a private message using Facebook at facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
For more information on how to report a loan shark or illegal money lending, go to GOV.UK: report a loan shark.
If you need help with money, read our debt and money advice.