Young woman on mobile phone intimidated by loan sharks

Loan sharks are out to wreck your Christmas

Don’t give these crooks the satisfaction… or your cash

There’s a warning this Christmas about turning to predatory loan sharks to help us cope with the cost of the festive season.

Research has shown that borrowing for Christmas is the second most common reason people go to loan sharks.

Loan sharks are illegal lenders who charge high rates of interest. They rarely give out paperwork and often add unfair extra payments at random.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has launched a Christmas campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of using loan sharks and the support that’s out there if we’ve already fallen prey to them.

Loan sharks and families

Part of the campaign is a collection of ‘Dear Santa’ stories that highlight the terrible impact of illegal money lending, especially on families.

The letters tell the stories of children whose families are being terrorised by loan sharks.

Sadly, the IMLT feels more households will be at risk from illegal lenders this Christmas as the financial and emotional effects of the pandemic hit home. Their research shows that after borrowing for essentials like food, rent or bills, Christmas is the second biggest reason people borrow.

The crooks know that when people are vulnerable they’re more likely to be tricked into thinking a loan shark is the only option for them.

Loan shark warning signs

If we’re under pressure financially, sadly we’re more likely to be targeted by these crooks who can spot when we’re vulnerable.

If we need to borrow money, we should check the lender is reputable and get details of interest rates and fees. We can find out if a lender is legit by checking the register on the FCA website.

If anyone sends us offers through social media we should never bite. Loan sharks will offer us cash quickly, but we’ll quickly be in over our heads as the eye-watering interest mounts up.

We should be careful about what we say on social media – we don’t want to give anything away that might single us out to a loan shark.

If we have concerns we can call the Stop Loan Sharks 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222. There’s also support, including live chat, at

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