Don’t get sharked this Christmas – message for communities
As Christmas approaches and money is tight more people will be tempted by loan sharks, but these criminals should always be avoided. Loan sharks will exploit families at this time of year, as they know they will be struggling for cash.
These lenders act like your best friend, they seem to be doing you a favour, and it may seem hard to resist the cash up front, but steer clear of them at all costs. What may seem like a small loan to tide you over for Christmas, could end up costing you dearly for years and years -and not just financially. It could end up having a horrific impact and your life and the lives of those around. You could be subjected to threats, violence and worse.
The national England Illegal Money Lending Team are cracking down on these criminals and bringing them to justice. Look out for offenders and don’t accept loans from them- report them in confidence. Typically loan sharks will:
• Appear friendly at first, enticing their borrowers to take out a loan but this is often a façade and very quickly the debt begins to spiral, extra charges are added sporadically
• Force their borrowers hand over items ‘as security’. This could include passports, driving licences or even bank cards with the PIN, in order to withdraw directly from borrowers accounts. This is how people are left with little or nothing to get by on.
• Offer little or no paperwork, and are unclear of the terms of the loan. People are then left in the dark as to how much they are actually repaying.
As the debts can’t legally be enforced, the lenders will resort to the most extreme methods to enforce repayment- tactics used to intimidate lenders have included cutting TV and phone wires then sitting waiting outside the borrowers home and collecting the victims children from school without their knowledge.
The Team have seen loan sharks threaten to burn down the homes of victims and throw acid in their faces. A victim was even kidnapped and attacked with a machete and a baseball bat and one woman was raped by a loan shark. Don’t put yourself or your family at risk.
Anne* took out a loan for £150 to buy her young children Christmas presents, but paid back more than £5000, as the loan shark continued to harass her for five years. When she fell ill and was unable to work she defaulted on payments. She was resting at home with her young daughter when the loan shark accompanied by two other men barged in, demanding to know why she hadn’t paid and pulling items out of her living room.
She told us how frightened she was “There was nowhere to go. I wasn’t even safe in my own house. I was screaming, crying, pleading with him not take my stuff. To think, that my little girl had to see that.”
Think about setting up a savings account, to put a little aside for Christmas. If you do need to borrow, try to only borrow what you need but make sure it’s from a reputable lender.
We’d recommend credit unions as a safe and legal alternative, find you nearest one: www.abcul.org
Remember loan sharks do not have a license from the Office of Fair Trading to lend money legally. Check that a lender is licensed before considering a loan; you can do so using the consumer credit register online.
Remember no matter how desperate you are loan sharks are never the answer. You can report these criminals in the strictest confidence and action will be taken.
We’ve already helped over 22,000 victims, secured nearly 300 prosecutions with custodial sentences in excess of 170 years and cleared illegal debts to the tune of £40.3 million.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
National Illegal Money Lending Team