Borrowing money and illegal money lending

Borrowing money safely from a credit union

If you're struggling with debts or regular outgoings you may be tempted to approach a loan shark when there are safe and legal avenues to explore to deal with money problems.

You can choose to safely borrow money from a credit union.

A credit union is a self-help cooperative whose members pool their savings to provide each other with credit at a low-interest rate. Credit union members need to share a common bond with each other, such as living or working in the same area, or working for the same employer.

What is a loan shark?

Loan sharks are illegal money lenders who charge very high-interest rates and operate without a licence. 

Loan sharks can threaten violence, take away your valuables or force you into other illegal acts to collect money from you.

How to identify a loan shark

Money lenders need to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) otherwise they're breaking the law. 

You can find out whether the money lender is lending you money legally by checking the Financial Services Register on the FCA's website.

Report a loan shark or get advice

If you're having problems with loan sharks, please speak with the following organisations for advice: 

If you're threatened by someone who lends you money

Harassment is against the law. If someone who has lent you money has threatened you or is violent, contact the police. You should do this even if it's an informal loan from someone you know, such as a friend or family member.