Drive to bite back against loan sharks launched in Wyre Forest

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is working in partnership with The Community Housing Group and Safer Wyre Forest to launch a new awareness campaign to tackle loan sharks.

The week-long campaign, running from 14 – 18 May 2018, aims to warn residents about the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders and signpost victims to the appropriate help and support available.

Work has already included a targeted leaflet drop on the Walshes estate and school tour with IMLT mascot “Sid the Shark” at Birchen Coppice Primary Academy and St Bartholomew’s CofE Vc Primary School.

Loan shark information was sent home in pupils’ school bags earlier this week and leaflets were handed out to parents at school gates.

Kathryn Underhill, Chair of Safer Wyre Forest, said:

“We are pleased to support the England Illegal Money Lending Team and the important work they do to combat loan sharks in our county. This crime has a devastating impact on people’s lives and we hope that by raising awareness of the problem, residents will be able to spot a loan shark and get help and support if they have been bitten.”

The Community Housing Group are also taking part in the week of action by warning their tenants about the dangers of using illegal money lenders.

Ray Brookes, Group Chief Executive for The Community Housing Group, said:

“We are really pleased to be part of this important campaign and support the work of the Illegal Money Lending Team in cracking down on loan sharks in our district.

“Loan sharks appear friendly at first and act as though they are providing a community service but this is not the case, they exploit vulnerable people and make matters worse. We would encourage residents to come and talk to us if they are struggling with debt as there are many organisations that can help if you have money worries.”

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 the Illegal Money Lending Team, comments:

“Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities. These illegal lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford. Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods. We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to report in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.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