The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) have released a new British Sign Language (BSL) video to support the Deaf community in recognising and reporting illegal money lenders.
The video has been released to mark Sign Language Week – a national campaign run by the British Deaf Association (BDA).
Sign Language Week is celebrated each year in March to coincide with the anniversary of the recognition of Sign Language by the British Government in 2003.
Sign Language Week runs from Monday 15th to Sunday 21st March 2021.
Working with the BDA, the Q&A video explains what a loan shark is, how to recognise the warning signs and includes advice for BSL users on how to report the crime.
The BDA was awarded proceeds of crime funding to deliver a series of zoom sessions about the dangers of loan sharks to various Deaf groups and BSL users.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks charge extortionate interest rates and often intimidate, threaten and trap vulnerable victims in a cycle of fear and violence.
“The criminals may seem friendly at first but borrowing from them could have serious consequences for victims and their families.
“We are always trying to find new ways to make our services accessible for everyone, and this video will enable members of the Deaf community to protect themselves from loan sharks and learn how to report them.”
A loan shark is someone who lends money as a business without the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Some of the key signs of loan sharking include cash loans without paperwork, use of bank cards and passports as security on loans and threatening behaviour or violence to get money.
The England Illegal Money Lending (IMLT) is a national team that investigates and prosecutes loan sharks and supports victims of the crime.
Robin Ash, Access and Inclusion Officer for the British Deaf Association, said: “We are pleased that the England Illegal Money Lending Team is showing an ongoing commitment to tackling this heinous crime in communities and making BSL users aware of the risks posed by illegal money lenders.”
Members of the Deaf community can contact the team by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or text a report to 078600 22116.
Alternatively, you can contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24 Hour Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or use Live Chat in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to talk to a support worker in real-time.
The IMLT can provide a British Sign Language interpreter for Deaf BSL users who have fallen victim to loan sharks.