Biting back against loan sharks in Tipton

Families in Tipton can get expert advice about how to stay safe from loan sharks this month during a special week of action.

The Stop Loan Sharks team will be in the area for a Bite Back Week, from Monday, June 24, to Friday, June 28, meeting members of the public and spreading the word about how to avoid illegal lenders and where to borrow safely.

The event has been organised in partnership with the Life in Community CIC, Black Country Housing Group, and Moneyline.

On Monday, June 24, Stop Loan Sharks mascot Sid the Shark will be out and about on the Moat Farm estate, known locally as the Lost City, from 10.30am to noon.

On Tuesday, June 25, from 11am to 1pm, the team will be at St John’s Church hall, Upper Church Lane for a special Life in Community event.

On Wednesday June 26, there will be a walkabout from 11am until 2pm around Eastfield Road and the Tibbington Estate.

On Thursday, June 27, from 11.30am to 2pm the team will be in Tipton and Dudley Port and on Friday, June 28, from 11am to 3pm there will be a Life in Community drop-in session back at St John’s Church hall.

Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, which is also known as Stop Loan Sharks, said: “We know illegal lenders work within communities and try to operate under the radar of the authorities. We would urge anyone with any information about illegal lending in the Tipton area to come along to one of these events and speak to the team. We can offer specialist, confidential help and advice to anyone needing help to escape an illegal lender and we can remove these criminals to make communities safer.”

Charlene Cotton, director of community engagement for Life in Community CIC, said: “We know there’s an issue around debt locally and we are aware that local residents access loan sharks without realising who and what they are.

“We want to raise awareness of this, by working alongside the Illegal Money Lending Team as part of Bite Back Week. We aim to help residents look more at ethical lending, to prevent their circumstances becoming more and more unstable. As an organisation we have developed a debt support service through Community Money Advice, but also, we want to support residents in getting into the habit of saving for a ‘rainy day’ and that’s where our relationship with Moneyline comes in.”

Adrian Eggington, deputy chief executive from Black Country Housing, said: “BCHG is committed to keeping our customers safe from loan sharks. With the rising cost of living, it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant against illegal money lending schemes.

“It’s great to be working in partnership with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to raise awareness of Loan Sharks and the impact illegal money lending can have on social housing tenants.”

Karen Hobson, partnership manager at Moneyline, added: “I find it incredibly positive for our Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) to participate in Bite Back Week. It’s crucial to offer residents information not only about the risks of engaging with illegal money lenders but also about safe and legal alternatives, like Moneyline.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the IMLT. Since its launch, it has supported over 31,500 people and written off over £91.2 million worth of illegal debt, securing over 420 prosecutions for illegal money lending, leading to more than 600 years in jail.

Anyone who has been affected by illegal money lending should call the Stop Loan Sharks confidential 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.