Two-thirds of loan shark victims last year thought they were borrowing from a friend.

When you think of an illegal money lender, or ‘loan shark’, you might conjure up images of hardened burly strangers, but in most cases this perception is completely wrong. An estimated 310,000 people are in debt to illegal money lenders in the UK, with many of these having borrowed money from someone they know – in some instances the parents of their children’s friends.

The Guardian recently published an article where Michelle, a mum of three, borrowed £50 for her son’s birthday, which escalated into thousands of pounds changing hands. Stop Loan Sharks have also covered Michelle’s story in their Winter Newsletter.

We’ve partnered with the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to support people who have borrowed money from a loan shark. Victims of loan sharks can choose to be referred into the VRS database, which helps organisations to identify vulnerability and treat their customers fairly. Making this information available to legitimate organisations for the first time means that service providers using the Vulnerability Registration Service database will be alerted if their customers are victims of loan sharks through a ‘risk of coercion’ flag.

The VRS database hold information from multiple sources including the IMLT, which can be used by service providers to identify vulnerable people and treat them with the care they need.

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