A loan shark is an illegal money-lender who makes it their business to profit from lending money but who is not licenced or regulated by the authorities.

A loan shark might be a friend or acquaintance or they might simply be someone known around your area for lending money. They will often deal in cash, seldom provide any paperwork, and will demand very high interest rates (or they may not even be clear about what you have to pay back).

If you cannot make repayments, loan sharks will often threaten violence or demand that you give them valuable items as an alternative to a repayment. If you can't make repayments, they may try to force you to do "favours" for them, which may involve getting involved in criminal activity yourself.

Loan sharks often prey on vulnerable people in the community: people who believe they have no alternative to borrowing from them, perhaps as a result of poor credit history, or who are out of work or on benefits.

Loan sharking is illegal. If you borrow from a loan shark, you have not broken the law but they have.

If you have been the victim of illegal money lending or you find yourself in financial difficulties that are leading you to consider borrowing money from an illegal money lender, there is help at hand. Please visit our Help & Advice page to find out more.