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Loan sharks are increasingly using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, to advertise their illegal loans and target potential victims.

These criminals will lure people in with seemingly attractive loan offers but will quickly resort to intimidation, threats and violence to enforce repayment and trap borrowers in a spiral of debt.

How to protect yourself from loan sharks online

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.

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.

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.

If you suspect someone may be a loan shark or they are acting inappropriately, you can report them anonymously to www.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.

The Stop Loan Sharks App is free to download on both iOS and Android devices from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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