Who We Are

The Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit (SIMLU) is part of Trading Standards Scotland and works in partnership with other agencies and organisations across Scotland to help to eradicate the scourge of illegal money lenders, often known as loan sharks. The SIMLU consists of specialist officers who investigate allegations of illegal money lending and related activity, submitting reports to the Procurator Fiscal as appropriate. The team also provide support for victims of illegal money lending and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks.

Illegal moneylenders or loan sharks, are those who lend money to people without the valid credit authorisation.

Loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable people in society and cause immense misery. Prior to the team’s existence, illegal money lending was largely a hidden crime and local authorities lacked the resources, specialist skills and training needed to tackle it effectively. The practice of illegal money lending is generally linked to other serious organised criminal activity.

Partnership and Support

The team has a Partnership and Support Officer who is responsible for raising awareness about the work of the team with partner agencies, particularly front line providers of advice and support. The Partnership and Support Officer is also responsible for providing support and advice to victims identified through the work of the team. In general this will take the form of signposting and direct referral. However, as the team often deal with individuals who have experienced difficulty with accessing advice and support in the past, in exceptional cases more intensive support will be provided.

Across Scotland there are many agencies that offer support to people who may be thinking of using a loan shark or have debt issues. Some of these organisations are:

StepChange Debt Charity

Citizens Advice Scotland 

Money Advice Service 

Money Advice Scotland 

The Scottish Illegal Money Lending team also works with colleagues at the English Illegal Money Lending Team and the Welsh Illegal Money Lending Team to raise awareness across the UK of the dangers of Loan Sharks.

If someone is lending money to you they must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. You can search their database by clicking here.

Report a Loan Shark

Prevention Projects

In 2020/21 the Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit funded three prevention projects to be run by the Grampian Regional Council for Equality (GREC), West Dunbartonshire Council and West Lothian Council.
On 9 December 2020 we held a roundtable discussion with officers from the three projects to find out more about their work and to discuss why prevention is key in the fight against illegal money lending. Watch the discussion below.