Bolton loan shark campaign wins national award

A CAMPAIGN to raise awareness of loan sharks and other scam methods in Bolton has won an award.

Bolton Safeguarding Adults Board received the Highly Commended award for their 2017 festive campaign which raised awareness among residents about the dangers of illegal money lenders, scams and rogue traders.

The national Stop Loan Sharks Awards, hosted by the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), recognise organisations that help the fight against loan sharks and commend those who have made a real difference in communities by highlighting this crime.

Bolton Community Voluntary Service (CVS) commissioned the seasonal loan shark awareness campaign, which increased awareness of illegal money lending, fraud and promoted Hoot Credit Union as a safe and local option for borrowing at Christmas.

Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Safeguarding and Adult Social Care, Cllr Madeline Murray, said:

“We are delighted that Bolton Safeguarding Adults Board has been commended for the work it has been doing around illegal money lenders and loan sharks, to keep the people of Bolton safe.”

Chairman of Bolton Safeguarding Adults Board, John Brimley, said:

“Economic abuse of vulnerable adults is becoming more and more prevalent. The aim of our campaign was to warn people about loan sharks in the difficult time leading up to Christmas, where people are likely to take out loans they can’t afford because they want to give their loved ones a good Christmas. Our work around economic abuse will continue over the next two years, and we hope to run several further campaigns on different themes in the weeks and months to come.”

The Board is made up of representatives from partner agencies such as Bolton Council, Greater Manchester Police and local NHS trusts. It aims to put an end to financial abuse in communities and protect vulnerable adults from falling prey to loan sharks.

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 including threats, violence and intimidation.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:

“We are delighted to present Bolton Safeguarding Adults Board with this award for their excellent continued work to ensure local communities turn away from loan sharks.

“It is important for people to realise that alternatives to borrowing from loan sharks are available if you are in financial difficulty.  We are here to help if you have already taken out a loan from an illegal money lender. Please call our confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 if you or someone you know is in this situation.”

Hoot Credit Union is a financial co-operative which is owned and controlled by its members. It offers accessible saving and affordable loans to members in Bolton, Bury and some surrounding areas.

For more information about how you can become a member of Hoot Credit Union, visit https://www.wisewithmoney.org.uk/.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 329 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £73.7 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222

Text a report to 078600 22116

Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk

E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk  

Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject