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South East Consumer Empowerment Partnership

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Citizens Advice Consumer Service



Find your local CAB

Report Loan Sharks

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I have a consumer problem. What can I do?

Citizens Advice Consumer Service

You can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service, a government-funded telephone line, on 08454 04 05 06.

The helpline is open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm.

If the matter is one that Kent Trading Standards should be informed about (such as a scam, fraud or a rogue trader), then the Citizens Advice Consumer Service will pass it on to them for you. You don't need to contact Trading Standards separately.

If you prefer to use an online form, then you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service using these web enquiry forms:


This is the Citizens Advice website with information and leaflets on many different consumer matters including how to deal with problems of poor service, faulty goods, second hand cars, difficulties with builders and many other common consumer issues.
Advice Guide logo Click on the logo to go the Citizens Advice website.

Police and Crimestoppers

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If you think you have been a victim of a scam or fraud, you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service (who will also alert Trading Standards for you) and you may want to report it to the Police on 101, the number for non emergencies. If a crime is in progress or it is an emergency, you can call 999.

If you want to report suspicious activity but don't want to talk to the police, you can call Crimestoppers. They are a registered charity dedicated to helping the local community fight crime. Any calls to Crimestoppers are completely confidential and you don't have to leave your name.
Click on the Crimestoppers logo to find out how to make a report. crimestoppers

Visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau

If you need to talk things through in person with an adviser or you want to go through paperwork, your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help. There are a number of bureaux throughout West Kent and each offers different opening times, appointments, drop in sessions, outreaches and telephone services.
Citizens Advice To find your nearest bureau and their opening times, click on the Citizens Advice logo and input your postcode or town where it says 'Find your local bureau'.

Consumer money matters

Loan Sharks

A loan shark is an unlicensed money lender. Licensed money lenders are regulated by the Office of Fair Trading ('OFT') and must follow the OFT's code of conduct.

Because loan sharks are not licensed, they operate outside the law. People who borrow from them can:

  • get a loan on very bad terms
  • pay extortionate rates of interest (rates of 131,000% APR have been recorded)
  • be harassed if you get behind with your payments
  • be pressured into borrowing more from them to pay one debt with another

The government's Illegal Money Lending Unit welcomes reports about loan sharks so that they can take action against them. You can contact the Unit on 0300 555 222 or text LOAN SHARK and the details you want to pass on to 60003 or send an email to reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk

Stop Loan Sharks There is more information about what to do about loan sharks on the Illegal Money Lending Unit's website. Click on the logo.

You can also go to a Citizens Advice Bureau if you want more general help with your debt situation.

Payday loans

There are a number of legally regulated financial companies that offer loans to tide you over until your next pay day. While they can be a useful financial tool for some people, others can find that they soon start 'rolling over' the debt from one month to the next. Interest and charges can be quite high for payday loans and the amount you owe can mount up quite rapidly if you take them for a long period of time.

Click on the logo for information about how to deal with debt matters and where you can find free help. Advice Guide logo

Credit Unions

Credit Unions can be a good resource if you are looking for a small to medium sized loan at a reasonable rate or you want to get into the savings habit. Credit Unions are regulated by the Financial Services Authority and are run as financial co-operatives, owned and controlled by their members.

You can search for a credit union in your area from Find your credit union website
Kent Savers logo Kent Savers is a Credit Union for Kent residents.

Making society fairer

Citizens Advice - the new voice for consumers

Citizens Advice has expanded its role in the consumer landscape and has taken on many new functions to help consumers get a better deal, avoid scams, find a voice to complain, and campaign for a fairer consumer environment.

As part of these changes, Citizens Advice has established regional Consumer Empowerment Partnerships (CEPs) that are designed to highlight resources in the local area and act as a focus for consumer issues.

The South East CEP, based in Kent, works with Trading Standards organisations, especially Kent Trading Standards; a body run through Kent County Council, that undertakes a wide variety of activities to help protect consumers including:

  • Enforcing consumer legislation against traders
  • Ensuring businesses compete on a "level playing field"
  • Controlling farm animal welfare and disease
More about their work can be found at their website. Click on the KCC link. Kent County Council

The easiest way to report a problem to Kent Trading Standards is to use the Citizens Advice Consumer Service.

South East Consumer Empowerment Partnership

If you would like to learn more about the South East CEP and its aims and activities, please email Caroline Farquhar at Tonbridge & Malling CAB at

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Website - South East Consumer Empowerment Partnership