‘Beware of false friends’ this Halloween

Castles and Coasts Housing Association (CCHA) is joining the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) in urging residents to ‘beware of false friends’ as part of Stop Loan Sharks Week, running from 24th to 31st October. The aim is to stop people from falling for their tricks this Halloween and beyond.

An incredible 56% of the people supported by the England IMLT in the first half of 2023 thought they were borrowing from a friend when they took out a loan. Illegal money lenders, also known as loan sharks, often pose as a friend or a credible lender - but if you fall for their tricks, you may find there is a frightening face behind the friendly mask.

Victoria Chilvers, Income Team Leader at CCHA, said: “People don't often choose to borrow from a loan shark, but many might take up the offer of a small loan from someone who seems to be a well-meaning friend. They can make it seem like they’re doing you a favour, but can quickly turn nasty when you challenge them over the amount being repaid or miss a payment. Don’t fall for their tricks this Halloween.”


How do you know if you’ve fallen victim to a loan shark?

If you can answer yes to one or more of these questions you might be borrowing from one:

  • Did they offer you a cash loan?
  • Did they not give you paperwork?
  • Did they add huge amounts of interest to your loan?
  • Have they threatened you?
  • Are you scared of people finding out?
  • Have they taken your bank card, benefit card, passport, watch or other valuables from you as ‘security’?

Victoria continued: “Remember Halloween isn’t the only time people dress up in disguise. If you think you might have fallen victim to a loan shark at any time, it’s really important to report it straight away to the Stop Loan Sharks team.

“If you’re a CCHA resident, please let us know too. It’s absolutely nothing to feel ashamed of and we don’t want you to worry in silence. Our Income Team and Financial Inclusion Service are here to help and support you through any difficulty you might be facing.”


Where to go for information and support

  • There are lots of ways you can report a loan shark safely and in confidence at stoploansharks.co.uk or by calling them on 0300 555 2222. Specially trained staff will provide you with emotional and practical support, and the loan shark won’t know they’re being investigated.
  • You can check your lender is authorised with a quick check on the Financial Conduct Authority website before borrowing any money. Taking a few minutes to check could stop your Halloween becoming a horror story.
  • CCHA residents should also call our Income Team on 0800 085 1171 for advice and support.