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How to protect yourself from loan sharks online

Loan sharks are increasingly using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to advertise their illegal loans and target victims.  Do you know how to protect yourself against the dangers of online loan sharks?

  1. Know who you’re dealing with. If you’ve only ever met someone online or are unsure of the legitimacy of a lender, take some time to do a bit more research. Check the lender is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If not, don’t borrow from them – report to the Stop Loan Sharks team.
  2. Beware of loan adverts with no credit checks. Loan sharks have been known to advertise in community groups and on local selling pages. They may seem friendly and accommodating, but their behaviour can quickly change, and you might be harassed or threatened if you get behind with your repayments. Lenders must carry out credit checks to make sure borrowers can afford to pay back their loans. You should never hand over your bank details to strangers, even if they lure you with attractive offers. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Beware of any requests for your details or money. Loan sharks may ask for copies of your passport or pictures of your house, the street and your house number. Never send money or give card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  4. Report suspicious behavior to the IMLT. If you suspect someone may be a loan shark or they are acting inappropriately, you can report them anonymously to stoploansharks.co.uk or by calling the Stop Loan Sharks Helpline on 0300 555 2222. Alternatively, you can email the team reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or access support via live chat on the website Monday to Friday between 9am- 5pm.

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “I urge people to remain vigilant when online – if you spot a suspicious loan advert on social media, report it to us. If you need to borrow money, always check the lender is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and contact your local credit union about ethical financial products and services.”

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