The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) have launched a new smartphone app to make it quicker and easier for people to report loan sharks and access support services.
The Stop Loan Sharks app includes a contact form and phone number to report loan sharks, as well as information to help victims of illegal money lending to get support.
It also offers advice on the tell-tale signs that someone is a loan shark. These include offering cash loans without any paperwork, charging extortionate interest, use of benefits or bank cards as security, and threatening behaviour or violence to get money.
The app was developed in partnership with MakoMedia and funded from cash recovered from loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). It provides information to various frontline professionals who may meet loan shark victims in the course of their work such as debt advisors, social workers and housing staff. These professionals can read information on how to recognise the signs and respond to disclosures and where to refer clients to for specialist support.
Other features include a search tool to help users find credit unions and legitimate lenders, links to confidential debt advice services and push notifications about loan shark arrests and court cases.
Users can also view case studies, experiences and real-life stories from victims and survivors of illegal money lending, alongside links to other media and videos.
Anyone needing support can get in touch via the Stop Loan Sharks App or by calling the 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222. Live chat is available on the organisation's homepage from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Nationally, illegal money lending teams have secured more than 400 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 586 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £83 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 30,000 people.