How to find a loan shark

February 13, 2015

Look for the man with the baseball bat accompanied by ‘Terry’ the minder; sorry read Bentley convertible and Cartier watch, accompanied by Harry the martial arts expert. He may well be operating in a pub near you.


“Ok, payday loans are no longer viable since the interest rate cap and absolute maximum on charges was introduced at the start of the year. This means payday loans will dry-up and the loan sharks will take over”.

Well that’s not absolutely true. There are still payday lenders operating in the market but they will be much fussier about who they lend to given the rule changes. The FCA expect about £420m of payday loans will go elsewhere (or not be sought; really ??) and of that they reckon some £ ½ m will go to loan sharks. We at Lendfair consider both these estimates are too low, the latter of just £ ½ m is ridiculously low.

So how do you find a loan shark?

By all accounts it’s not that hard. Word of mouth usually works and that may well start in the pub or workplace. Many Pub landlords used to provide cheque cashing services to their customers (for a fee) prior to the removal of Cheque Guarantee cards in 2011 after which this service, combined with that of money lending, moved to the sharks often with the knowledge or complicity of the landlord.

Now let’s make an assumption; there are still some 50,000 pubs in the UK. Assume a shark will operate in a patch he can protect of say 5-6 pubs. That means up to 10,000 small time sharks. Some as demonstrated by convictions operate on bigger turf protecting the same. Now let’s assume that each shark has a book of £10,000 to £20,000, again some have much larger books, examples of £300,000 and larger books are known of.

The maths; 10,000 sharks at say £15,000………. That’s a whopping £150m, and this is possibly an underestimate.

This trade is unregulated and examples of prosecution show it to be unscrupulous, usury and often associated with other crime. It is also part of the black economy and the exchequer does not benefit.

So, the Government and FCA have dealt with (in part) the unfair Payday loan market; what do they intend to do about the Loan Sharks? It is no good suggesting this is a police matter, because only in the truly horrible instances where victims can overcome their genuine fear does this ever come to light, let alone prosecution.

If you know someone using a loan shark get them to look at regulated and fair alternatives; Lendfair can offer just such loans.

If you want to report a crime involving a loan shark, contact;


Illegal Money Lending Team
Telephone: 0300 555 2222
24-hour service
Text LOAN SHARK and the lender’s details to 60003
Find out about call charges



Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit
Telephone: 0300 123 3311
24-hour service
Text LOAN SHARK and the lender’s details to 60003
Find out about call charges



Trading Standards Scotland
Report a loan shark online
Telephone: 0800 074 0878
24-hour service
Find out about call charges


Northern Ireland

Trading Standards Consumerline
Telephone: 0300 123 6262
Find out about call charges

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