How can I tell if a company has a licence to lend money?
It's not always obvious if a creditor is lending money illegally, especially if they act like a normal business.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) helpline can tell you if a business has a valid consumer credit licence. You can call them on 0800 111 6768.
If you have a payment book or agreement showing an address or licence number, have this handy when you call.
Sometimes a business may have a valid consumer credit licence which allows them to do other financial activities, but not to issue loans. They're still breaking the law if they lend or collect money.
Are there alternatives to borrowing from a loan shark?
Even if you’re on a low income or have a poor credit rating, there are safer ways to access money or cover expenses. They include:
- Help from the government, such as benefits and money to cover food and emergency costs. The government website has information on how to get an advance on your first benefit payment. You can also get advice on your options from Jobcentre Plus
Credit unions, who can help you save money as well as offer manageable credit products. There’s likely to be a credit union in your local area, and they’ll consider credit applications from people with poor credit ratings
Lending schemes through your employer. Talk to your HR department and ask if they can offer any short-term assistance, such as an advance on your wages or overtime
Assistance with your utilities. Many utility providers have schemes and grants in place for people who are struggling with gas or electric arrears. You may even qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment scheme which can help you manage energy price rises in the colder months
We can help
If you've borrowed from a loan shark, we won't judge you, and everything you tell us is confidential. Use our online debt advice tool or call us (freephone, including all mobiles). We'll help you create a personalised budget and give you a tailored solution to help you deal with your debts.