Residents urged to ‘bite back’ against loan sharks in new campaign

Sid the Shark will be doing the rounds in Wolverton next week

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is working in partnership with Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police to raise awareness of loan sharks in Wolverton with a week-long campaign of activity from 5th – 9th August 2019.

The campaign aims to encourage people to avoid getting involved with loan sharks and to report the crime if they have been a victim. It will focus on how people can receive help and advice if they are in debt and highlight safer ways to borrow money.

The week of action will include a series of information stall events, including a drop-in session for local residents on how to spot scams, doorstep crime, and loan sharks.

Officers will be knocking on residents’ doors on Monday, 5th August to provide crime prevention advice and speak to people about any concerns.

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Loan sharks trap borrowers in a spiral of debt, often resorting to extreme methods of intimidation, threats and violence to enforce repayment.

“We are committed to cracking down on unscrupulous lenders in partnership with other agencies. We not only want to warn people of the dangers but we want to offer support to those who may be vulnerable to getting involved with loan sharks.”

The joint approach allows the organisations to share information to bring loan sharks to justice.

Advice on avoiding loan sharks will be given during community events held across town on the following dates:

Monday 5th August (3pm to 6pm) –Tesco Superstore, McConnell Dr, Wolverton, MK12 5RJ

Tuesday 6th August (11am to 3pm) – Scams Talk drop in for local residents at Town Hall, Creed St, Wolverton, MK12 5LY includes free refreshments.

Wednesday 7th August (11am to 3pm) – Blue Light Event at Wolverton Square, MK12 5DG. 

Thursday 8th August (11:30am to 1pm) – The Food Bank, 9 Hollin Lane, Stacey Bushes, MK12 6HT and 1:30pm to 3pm MK Community Fridge, 205 Stratford Road, MK12 5RL

Friday 9th August (10:30am to 4pm) – Farmfoods, Glyn Square, MK12 5JQ and 2pm to 3pm Central Jamia, Masjid, Church St, MK12 5JN

There will also be a prize draw (£40 shopping vouchers) for those completing a loan shark survey; copies will be available at the community events.

Leader of the Council and Wolverton ward member, Cllr Pete Marland said: “Borrowing money from loan sharks can have serious ramifications. This partnership between the council and IMLT will help drive out those who target vulnerable people and subject them to cruel repayment methods.

“I’d encourage anyone that has debt concerns to come along to one of the events and speak to a member of the team in confidence. Council colleagues will be on hand to offer advice and help with any concerns you might have.”

The Illegal Money Lending Team works in partnership with Trading Standards services across England to prosecute loan sharks and to support the people and communities that are affected by them.

An estimated 310,000 households are borrowing from illegal money lenders and the highest APR seen by a loan shark was 4.5 million per cent.

Some of the indicators of loan sharking include cash loans without paperwork, use of benefit or bank cards as security and threatening behaviour or violence to get money.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 394 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 480 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £74.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 29,000 people.

To report a loan shark call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116 or complete a secure form here.