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Strapped-for-cash actively seeking loan sharks

Some people in London are so short of money they are not only turning to illegal loan sharks, but they are taking the incredible step of advertising to find one.

A special ITV News investigation has found - especially in east London - that despite the warnings about intimidation and extortionate charges from illegal lenders, there's been a spike in the number of people believing a loan shark is the only way out of their financial troubles.

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports:


Advice for anyone who has borrowed from a loan shark

If you have borrowed from an unlicensed lender or 'loan shark' you have not broken the law, they have. Here are some sources of advice:

  • 24/7 confidential advice - 0300 555 2222
  • Text ‘loan shark and your message’ to 60003
  • Email
  • Send a Facebook message to

What are loan sharks and how do they operate?

Unlicensed lenders - often called 'loan sharks' - operate illegal money lending businesses without a licence from the Office of Fair Trading. Here are some clues for identifying them:

  • Rarely offers paperwork to keep borrowers unsure of how much they owe
  • Charge extortionate rates of interest (rates of 131,000% APR have been seen)
  • Add additional amounts to the debt so borrowers struggle to repay
  • Take items such as passports of bank cards as security
  • Employ extreme methods to reclaim their debts, including violence and intimidation

Source: England Illegal Money Lending Team