The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) are working in partnership with Cannock Chase District Council and Staffordshire Police to launch a ‘Bite Back’ campaign to crack down on loan sharks in the district.

The week-long campaign runs from this Monday (July 10) to Friday (July 14) and will warn residents about the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders. The purpose of the ‘Bite Back’ week will be to steer people away from using the illegitimate services of a loan shark and instead, signpost them to their local credit union as a safe alternative when borrowing money.

Officers from the IMLT and Staffordshire Police will participate in a targeted leaflet drop on streets within the Springsfield estate on Wednesday (July 12) to speak to residents about any concerns or information they may have about illegal money lending in the area.

The leaflet drop will also be an opportunity for officers to spread the word about the help and support available to loan shark victims through the services of the IMLT. Hundreds of informational leaflets will be posted through residents letterboxes with the IMLT’s contact information on.

Pubs in Rugeley will also be getting involved in the week of action by distributing the IMLT’s information beer mats out to customers.

Partners will be active on social media throughout the week; publishing helpful information and photos to Cannock Chase residents, using the hashtag #SLSCannock.

Councillor Carl Bennett, Portfolio Leader for Crime and Partnerships at Cannock Chase Council, said:

“We are pleased to support ‘Bite Back’ week to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.

“Illegal money lending is a despicable crime and lenders often take advantage of the most vulnerable in our communities. The rate of interest that has to be paid causes extreme hardship to the borrowers and I’m advising people not to go down this road.

“Residents who find themselves in difficult financial situations are encouraged not to use loan sharks, but to seek help and support through the right channels. Advice and support is available from Fusion Credit Union, visit www.fusioncreditunion.co.uk

A loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Loan sharks often target low-income and desperate families; preying on struggling individuals and exploiting them for personal financial gain.

An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt.

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

“Illegal money lending is an appalling crime that is happening amongst many of our local communities. We are pleased to be working with Cannock Chase District Council and Staffordshire Police to launch a week of action to educate residents on the risks of getting involved with a loan shark. The help and support services of the IMLT will be made highly visible next week; with informational leaflets being posted through doors and beer mats appearing in local pubs within the district.

“If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, we urge you to get in touch with the IMLT on 0300 555 2222. A trained officer from the team will be on the other end of the phone to take your call 24/7. We will take information either anonymously or in confidence.

“If you are struggling financially with debt, please contact your local Citizens Advice (Staffordshire South West) on 0344 411 1444 – they can help you get your finances back on track.”

Insp Mark Ward, Deputy Commander of Cannock District Policing Team, said:

“Illegal money lending can cause significant problems within our communities, and many of our most vulnerable in society are often targets for this activity. We will work alongside our partners to protect vulnerable victims, and target those who are exploiting them with a view to both enforcement and safeguarding.”

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 378 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 325 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £71.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 26,500 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

To receive all the latest updates from the IMLT, follow the team on Twitter @LoanSharkNews