Families struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living are being warned of the dangers of loan sharks.
The warning comes after a man was arrested following a series of illegal money lending warrants executed in Liverpool and Wirral earlier this week.
Officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) worked in partnership with Merseyside Police to execute search warrants at a residential address in West Derby and two business premises in Rock Ferry on Wednesday (7 December).
A large quantity of documentation and electronic devices were seized by officers after conducting searches at the addresses.
The IMLT works in partnership with trading standards teams from Liverpool City Council and Wirral Council to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.
The 51-year-old suspect has been charged with illegal money lending and money laundering offences. He has been released on bail and is due to appear before Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on 23 January 2023.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We are committed to working with our partners to clampdown on illegal lenders and their exploitative practices.
“As Christmas approaches and the increased cost of living adds even more pressure to already stretched budgets, many families may be experiencing financial difficulties. They may feel they have nowhere to turn, which is when the loan sharks usually begin to circle.
“We are urging residents to remain vigilant if approached by someone who promises to help them out with a quick and easy way of getting a loan. Loan sharks charge exorbitant interest rates and often use pressure, intimidation, and threats to trap their victims in a spiral of debt.
“If you are concerned that you or someone you know could be a victim of a loan shark, our helpline is available 24 hours a day on 0300 555 2222 to provide confidential advice and support.”
Warning signs to indicate that you could be dealing with a loan shark include giving no paperwork upon the agreement of a loan, refusing to provide detailed information about a loan, intimidation, and threats, taking items such as a bank card or passport until the debt is paid, and taking things from you if you do not pay on time.
If you have borrowed from a loan shark or are worried about someone else who has, contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24-Hour Helpline on 0300 555 2222. Alternatively, you can access support using our confidential live chat service at www.stoploansharks.co.uk