Drive to bite back against loan sharks will take place in Wisbech

An awareness drive which aims to bite back against loan sharks and help vulnerable victims will be launched in Wisbech later this week.

The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) have teamed up with Wisbech Town Council, Fenland District Council and Rainbow Saver Credit Union to organise a loan shark awareness event at Wisbech Market Place this Friday (23 February).

Officers will be at the Market Place between 9.30am and 2pm to speak to local residents about illegal money lending and promote the help available to victims.

Information leaflets will be handed to shoppers with contact details on for the IMLT should residents need to contact the team for advice and support with loan sharks.

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

“Loan sharks target some of the most vulnerable people in society and operate in deprived communities so it’s vital we work with local councils to tackle this crime and promote credit unions as they provide a safe and affordable alternative to these illegal money lenders.

“We encourage residents to come and talk to us at Friday’s event if they have concerns about an illegal money lender in their area. Victims can call our 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 to report a loan shark or visit www.stoploansharks.uk for more information.”

Fenland District Councillors Michael and Virginia Bucknor, who volunteer with the Credit Union, said they are ‘pleased to support the work of the Illegal Money Lending Team’ and continue to encourage those in financial difficulties to visit Rainbow Saver Credit Union at the Oasis Community Centre any Thursday between 12.00 and 2.00pm.

Last month, Rainbow Saver Credit Union launched a new incentive which awards savers with loan sharks’ cash once they have saved for three consecutive months.

The first fifty new members to join the credit union and save £5 per month for three months will be awarded with a £25 bonus.

Sally Chicken, Volunteer Director at Rainbow Saver Credit Union, said:

“The Credit Union is pleased to be working with the Illegal Money Lending Team to raise awareness of loan sharks and high-cost lending.

“Struggling families may be tempted to use a local loan shark if they are struggling with mounting bills and debt. Here at Rainbow Saver Credit Union, we deliver a range of financial services and can support members by offering safe savings, affordable loans and budgeting accounts. This incentive is on for a limited time only and is restricted to the first 50 accounts – don’t miss out on receiving a free £25 bonus.”

For more information on how to become a member of Rainbow Saver Credit Union, call 01733 686483 or visit http://www.rainbowsaver.co.uk/.

More than 310,000 households in the UK are currently using illegal money lenders. Loan sharks destroy lives and can push victims to the brink of suicide due to the extreme misery they cause.

Although there are no exact figures to prove how many loan sharks are operating in Wisbech, the IMLT estimates that more than seven hundred million pounds is going through loan sharks’ books every year nationally.

Councillor David Oliver, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Fenland District Council, said:

“It is important that residents are made aware of the dangers of illegal money lenders, particularly at this time of year when money is often tight. These unpleasant individuals spell nothing but misery for those who borrow money from them so it’s vital, as a community, that we all remain vigilant to this activity.”

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