Fears people will turn to loan sharks in run up to Christmas

Joanne Harding
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Residents across Sale are being urged not to contact loan sharks during the cost of living crisis.

Trafford Council and partners including Citizens Advice and the Stop Loan Sharks group are keen to prevent people from approaching illegal money lenders as the crisis worsens.

People feel tempted to contact loan sharks – particularly in the run-up to Christmas – as they see them as offering a way out of their financial troubles. But loan sharks are illegal, charge very high rates of interest and often threaten violence or take away credit cards and valuables when they are collecting money. They are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so are therefore breaking the law by lending money illegally.

The Stop Loan Sharks group offer the following tips to protect people against loan sharks:

  • Save money regularly if you can, so you are not in urgent need of a loan
  • Do not accept cash loans, even if the lender seems friendly or helpful
  • Search the FCA Financial Services register to check if the lender is legal
  • If you need to borrow money, credit unions are a safer alternative than borrowing from a loan shark. Visit findyourcreditunion.co.uk to find your nearest credit union

The Stop Loan Sharks Project 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 written off over £74 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.

Councillor Jo Harding (pictured above), Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Strategic Partnerships, said: “People in poverty sometimes take desperate action to obtain financial help – but loan sharks must be avoided. They prey on extremely vulnerable people at times of crisis – like now – and offer sums of money that simply cannot be paid back. They target families who are struggling and make them feel that they can be the answer to their financial problems – they are not.

“Loan sharks and other illegal money lenders allow people to go into debt and then use threatening behaviour to get money. If you feel you are struggling and in need of help, please approach your local credit union rather than the local loan shark. And if you know of any loan sharks, please report them so they can be stopped from destroying another family or individual.” 

If you have been the victim of a loan shark, you can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or stoploansharks.co.uk.

Also, the Money Advice Service is a free, independent service. moneyadviceservice.org.uk has lots of useful information about borrowing and managing your money.

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