Mascot ‘Sid the Shark’ raising awareness of loan sharks in Bracknell
Berkshire Credit Union has launched a new savings promotion to help keep families out of the grips of loan sharks and prevent people from falling into a spiral of debt.
Cash confiscated from convicted loan sharks will be paid as a bonus to residents signing up for a new account and saving for three months.
The offer of a £25 bonus will be made to the first 50 people signing up for the scheme, delivered in partnership with the England Illegal Money Lending Team.
Manager Manjula Phadnis said: “Berkshire Credit Union is providing an alternative way of saving and borrowing money for local people. We are encouraging residents to boost their savings this year by opening an account and saving through the year which will help ease the financial stress of Christmas. Saving £10 a week would give you over £500 for next Christmas and will prevent the need to turn to expensive payday lenders or loan sharks when financial emergencies arise.”
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Credit unions offer a real lifeline for some people, because they offer access to safe and legitimate financial services, helping to reduce the risk of people going to illegal money lenders who often target the financially vulnerable.
“We want people to know there is an alternative to loan sharks and encourage anyone who is a victim of illegal money lending to report it as soon as possible.”
More than 310,000 households across the country are estimated to borrow from illegal money lenders, who charge exorbitant rates of interest, force people into a spiral of debt and often resort to violence or intimidation to force repayments.
All money lenders require proper permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to lend money and those who do not are acting illegally.
Prospective members need to bring two forms of ID (one with a picture if possible) with them to the service point, to prove their identity and current address.
To report a loan shark, call the 24/7 confidential helpline 0300 555 2222 or complete an online form here.