Illegal Money Lending

The Advice Shop is working with the Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit to address the problem of illegal money lenders, often known as loan sharks, in West Lothian.

Loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable people and those going through tough times. Getting involved with a loan shark can cause stress, anxiety and misery. The Advice Shop along with the Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit, want to stop this from happening to people in West Lothian. 

You will not be in trouble if you have borrowed cash or have been paying back a loan from an illegal money lender. The loan sharks are the people committing a crime, not you. 

How do I spot an illegal money lender? 

Illegal money lenders do not follow the strict guidelines and codes of practice of legitimate creditors. There are some telltale signs that could help you spot an illegal lender:

  • They advertise through word of mouth
  • They mainly operate in cash transactions
  • They rarely give out any paperwork
  • They start out friendly but if payments are missed they often turn to threats and violence to get their money
  • They charge extremely high rates of interest and also add other charges to loans whenever they want
  • They take away borrowers personal possessions as 'security'  

Where do illegal money lenders operate?

Illegal lenders do not operate from legitimate premises. They often operate from their own home, but can also be found out in communities in areas where people tend to gather such as:

  • Pubs
  • Bookmakers
  • Casinos
  • Bingo halls
  • Outside Post Offices

What can I do if I come across an illegal money lender?

Anyone can report an illegal money lender, not just the victim. You can contact the Illegal Money Lending Unit at any time, in complete confidence. 

Phone: 0800 074 0878

Text: 'loan shark' and the details to 07741701325

Email: stopillegallending@cosla.gov.uk 

Report a loan shark online through the Illegal Money Lending Unit website 

How can the Advice Shop help? 

If you or someone you know is involved with an illegal money lender, the Advice Shop can offer information and advice on how to deal with this. 

We can also provide practical help and support to improve your financial circumstances in a number of ways:

1. Maximise your Income
  • Check your entitlement to social security benefits, grants and other sources of financial support in order to maximise your income 
  • Help you through the claim process for any benefits you may be entitled to
  • Offer advice and support to resolve any problems with your benefits including appeal representation
2. Deal with Other Debts

The Advice Shop money advice team can provide support to help get other debt under control. Our dedicated money advisors can:

  • Help to deal with secured and unsecured debts with legitimate lenders
  • Negotiate with creditors on your behalf
  • Help you to access different government schemes for dealing with debts
  • Give you advice about bankruptcy and other debt options
  • Provide assistance to address arrears if you have fallen behind with rent, Council Tax or other bills
3. Improve your Financial Wellbeing

Regain control of your finances through our easy to use online budgeting tool

The tool will help you to keep track of your income and essential outgoings and think about how you could save money 

To get advice or discuss debt relief options with a friendly and helpful advisor, please contact us
Phone: 01506 283000 (option 3) 
Email: advice.shop@westlothian.gcsx.gov.uk
Online: Advice Shop Online Referral Form