Advice Column: Loan Sharks

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column we focus on the dangers of borrowing from Loan Sharks.


My friend told me about someone she knew that could help me out with a loan. Although I’ve been making regular repayments, my loan just seems to be increasing and I have no paperwork to prove the amount I borrowed initially. The person who I borrowed from has now started sending threatening messages. What can I do?


Any person lending money should have permission to carry out the regulated activity from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).


Licensed lenders must comply with legal obligations in dealing with consumers, including the use of official paperwork and fair collection methods.


Loan sharks operate illegally without authorisation from the FCA. These criminals prey on the most vulnerable in society, charging extortionate interest and using intimidation and violence to pressure their victims.


You can find out whether a money lender is authorised by searching the name of the firm or person at


Loan sharks often charge astronomical rates of interest and don’t issue paperwork to confirm the arrangements that they have made with you. These illegal lenders usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As the debts can’t legally be enforced, many will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment including threats, violence and intimidation.


In some cases, loan sharks have been known to take items as security including passports, driving licenses or even bank or post office cards with the PIN in order to withdraw money directly from the borrowers’ accounts.


If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, you can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team on the 24-hour hotline 0300 555 2222 or visit


Look out for our column next week when we focus on meeting the costs of Christmas.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date version, please visit the Citizens Advice website at