Trading standards consumer advice

Loan sharks

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.

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.

Report a loan shark

: 0300 555 2222


You can also send a private message using Facebook at

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.