The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is running its national Stop Loan Sharks Week campaign from 26th September to 2nd October 2022 to highlight the help available to those who have been targeted by loan sharks, as well as increase awareness of this hidden crime in communities.
A report published by the Centre for Social Justice estimated that 1.08 million people could be borrowing from an illegal money lender – more commonly known as a loan shark. This figure has more than trebled since 2010.
The #LetsTalkLoanSharks campaign aims to remove the shame and banish the stigma around illegal money lending by encouraging conversations among families, friends, neighbours, customers, colleagues and communities.
It also encourages frontline professionals to have a loan shark conversation with every client they see during the week, whether or not each individual is showing signs of borrowing from a loan shark. People who have borrowed from loan sharks often keep this information to themselves, but by asking a few simple questions, you could help someone feel supported enough to disclose their situation so they can get the help they need.
Loan shark victims often tell us they have engaged with services, but did not reveal their involvement with the lender simply because they were not asked. People have told IMLT how they wished they had been asked about the loan earlier to help them access support. For this week we are asking all professionals to ask all client contacts about loan sharks, to help start those conversations. You may even save someone’s life.
Loan sharks ruin lives and communities – it’s time to stop them. The first step in helping someone escape the grip of an illegal lender is to encourage them to talk about their experiences. We’ve made it easier than ever by providing a list of sensitive questions you can use to start a conversation.
Good questions to ask include: “Is the person you borrowed from authorised to lend money?”, “Are you paying them back more than what you borrowed?”, “Are you feeling overwhelmed by your debts?”, “Has anyone acted aggressively towards you when you didn’t pay back a loan?”
Loan sharks are known for threatening violence and other forms of intimidation to extort money from their victims. Because of this, people who have borrowed from illegal lenders are often reluctant to speak out because they fear reprisals or they may not realise they are a victim of a crime. This can often cause stress and anxiety which may lead to further debts and financial hardship.
Together, we can help tackle illegal money lending through early intervention, prevention and support for victims. We want to get everyone talking about loan sharks, because not enough people are aware of the dangers they pose. Please join our campaign and help us spread the word about this important issue by sharing our #LetsTalkLoanSharks social media resources attached. You can download our partner campaign toolkit and social media assets from our website here.