Loan sharks are being targeted in a national campaign led by the England Illegal Money Lending Team.
A Christmas social media campaign offers advice on how to avoid falling victim to unscrupulous loan sharks and how to report illegal money lending in your community.
Part of the ‘Stop Loan Sharks Project’ the team has already secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to over 330 years’ worth of custodial sentences for loan sharks. They have also written off over £74 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.
The team shared tips on how to protect against Loan Sharks this Christmas, including:
- Saving money regularly, so you are not in urgent need of a loan
- Not accepting cash loans, even if the lender seems friendly or helpful
- Searching the FCA Financial Services register to check if the lender is legal
- Borrowing money from credit unions offer a safer alternative than borrowing from a loan shark. Visit www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk to find your nearest credit union
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“Loan sharks are a scourge on our communities, taking advantage of people in desperate situations and trapping them in a cycle of debt and misery. This time of year is especially profitable for them as they prey of people trying to cope with the pressures of Christmas.
“If you do need to borrow this Christmas, do so from a responsible, ethical source – such as a credit union and avoid turning to illegal money lenders.”
A loan shark is any person lending money who does not have a consumer credit licence from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Loan sharks operate illegally, without the correct permissions and often take benefit or bank cards as security, and can resort to intimidation and violence if victims default. Loan sharks can charge extortionate interest rates running to thousands of per cent, making it impossible for victims to repay the loan.
The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England, Scotland and Wales work alongside the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and local Trading Standards Authorities to investigate those operating within the consumer credit market without the appropriate authorisation.
The team has specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending, support victims and help raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.
Find out more about what the Illegal Money Lending Team are doing by visiting www.stoploansharks.co.uk or to report a loan shark call 0300 555 2222