Shropshire Bites Back Against Loan Sharks
The England Illegal Money Lending Team are working with Shropshire Council, West Mercia Police and Three Parishes Big Local to deliver a “bite back” week against loan sharks.
The week of action will include staff training, information in local village’s magazines, leaflet drops and a social media campaign. There will be a “Big Celebration” event on Saturday 14th May at St Martins School, Moors Bank, St Martins which will include local agencies signing a charter pledging a zero tolerance approach to loan sharks. The charter signing will be at 3.30pm.
Also launched at the Bite Back week is a special offer with Fairshare Credit Union. The first 50 new members who join before 1st September 2016 and save at least £2 for a minimum of 13 weeks will receive a bonus of £25. The money comes from proceeds of crime taken from convicted loan sharks and aims to help people start saving. Terms and conditions apply, please see www.fairshare.uk.com for full details.
Nick Heard, the Three Parishes Big Local Partnership Chair said “We identified that financial exclusion was an issue from the research behind our £1 million Big Lottery funded programme. This 10 year project aims to improve the lives of people living in the villages of St Martins, Weston Rhyn and Gobowen, and we have included tackling debt as one of the aspirations in our Community Plan. We are supporting the England illegal Money Lending Team with this “zero tolerance to loan sharks” campaign as it is important that local agencies and local residents are made aware of the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks and doorstep lenders, and are also kept informed of the alternatives available to them”.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said: “We are continuing to crack down on illegal money lending and bringing those who break the law to justice. It’s important to remember that loan sharks are only motivated by greed so should never be used.
We would urge anyone with information about loan sharking or victims of loan sharks to contact the team on 0300 555 2222.”
Loan sharks operate illegally, without the correct permissions from the Financial Conduct Authority. These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment.
Paperwork is rarely offered so victims are often in the dark as to how much they are actually paying. Exorbitant extra amounts and interest are added at random- the highest interest seen by an illegal lender was equivalent to 131,000% APR. In some cases the loan sharks have been known to take items as security including passports, driving licences and bank or post office cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers’ accounts.
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 339 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 225 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off over £63.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,500 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject