A loan shark is a person or body that offers unsecured loans at illegally high interest rates to individuals, often enforcing repayment by blackmail or threats of violence.Throughout history, usury laws made loan sharks commonplace. Many moneylenders skirted between legal and extra-legal activity. In the recent western world, loan sharks have been a feature of the criminal underworld, but are less common in law-abiding life.Many customers were employees of large firms, such as railways or public works. Larger organizations were more likely to fire employees for being in debt as their rules were more impersonal, which gave the loan shark a powerful form of blackmail. It was easy for lenders to learn which large organizations did this rather than collecting information on the multitude of smaller firms. Larger firms had more job security and the greater possibility of promotion, so employees sacrificed more to ensure they were not fired. The loan shark could also bribe a large firm's paymaster to provide information on its many employees. Regular salaries and paydays made negotiating repayment plans simpler.The size of the loan and the repayment plan were often tailored to suit the borrower's means. The smaller the loan, the higher the interest rate was, as the costs of tracking and pursuing a defaulter was the same whatever the size of the loan. The attitudes of lenders to defaulters also varied: some were lenient and reasonable, readily granting extensions and slow to harass, whilst others unscrupulously tried to milk all they could from the borrower. Because salary lending was a disreputable trade, the owners of these firms often hid from public view, hiring managers to run their offices indirectly. To further avoid attracting attention, when expanding his trade to other cities, an owner would often found new firms with different names rather than expanding his existing firm into a very noticeable leviathan.