This information explains what a pawnbroker is and what happens if you can't repay the loan or you don't collect the goods.
What is a pawnbroker
A pawnbroker is someone who lends money according to the value of goods left with them (pledged). When you leave your goods with the pawnbroker they must give you a receipt known as a ticket.
The pawnbroker must keep the goods for at least six months but you can get them back at any time by paying off the loan plus interest. The period can be extended by paying the interest only and re-pledging the goods.
What happens if you don’t repay the loan
If you don’t repay the loan or extend the credit, the pawnbroker can sell your goods and use the money to pay off your debt.
What happens if you lose the ticket
If the amount you borrowed was £75 or less, the pawnbroker can give you a standard form to fill in to say that you have lost the ticket but that the goods are yours. The pawnbroker might not agree to do this if they don't believe the goods are yours.
In England and Wales, if the amount you borrowed was over £75 or if it is less but the pawnbroker will not accept a standard form, you will have to go to a magistrate or commissioner for oaths to swear that the goods are your property. There is a fee for this. You must then either get the goods back or make a new six-month agreement.
In England and Wales, you can contact a magistrate at your local magistrates' court. It's a good idea to telephone the court first and make an arrangement, as there may be a set time when magistrates do this type of work. You can serach for your local magistrates court on the Courts Service website at www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk.
In Scotland you should ask a solicitor for advice but there is likely to be a fee for this. You could ask a Justice of the Peace (JP) if you know one personally and they may be prepared to vouch for you without charging a fee. More information about JPs can be found on the JP Scotland website at www.jpscotland.gov.uk.
A solicitor or other legally qualified person, such as a legal executive, can act as a Commissioner for Oaths.
For more information about finding a solicitor, see Using a solicitor.
What happens if you don’t go back for the goods
If you don't go back for the goods within six months and the amount borrowed is £75 or less, the goods will become the pawnbroker’s property.
If the amount borrowed was more than £75, the pawnbroker can sell the goods at the end of the agreed period. But the pawnbroker has to give you notice of this if the loan was for more than £100, to give you a chance to collect the goods.
Further help and information
For more information about different ways of borrowing money and getting credit, see Types of borrowing.
You may also find the following Adviceguide information helpful:
The Money Advice Service
The Money Advice Service is a free, independent service. Their website (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) has lots of useful information about borrowing and managing your money.
Go to their website for more information about: