The England Illegal Money Lending Team, in partnership with livin Housing, Spennymoor Area Action Partnership, Durham Constabulary and Durham Trading Standards, are working with residents in the Spennymoor area of County Durham to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks.
From Monday 11th July, a Week of Action will take place to encourage people to turn away from loan sharks and to report the crime if they have been a victim, as well as offer advice on alternative affordable lending options.
This latest campaign will be launched with a charter signing at Spennymoor Town Hall. Local agencies and local residents will come together to sign a pledge saying there will be a zero tolerance approach to loan sharks in Spennymoor. In order to spread the Stop Loan Sharks message throughout the week, the campaign will be visiting residents in Spennymoor on Monday 11th and on Thursday 14th July to speak to as many people as possible and hand out leaflets on how to contact the Illegal Money Lending Team and also information leaflets from Prince Bishops Credit Union.
To encourage people to find out more about loan sharks there is a training session for volunteers and residents to be held on Wednesday 13th July start at 1pm until 2:30pm at St Paul’s Centre. This is a free training session and anyone who would like to come can just turn up on the day and will be welcomed with tea and coffee.
Cllr Neil Foster, cabinet portfolio holder for Economic Regeneration at Durham County Council and local councillor for Tudhoe said: “Illegal money lending or loan sharking is something we want to see wiped out in Spennymoor and the region. It hurts the most vulnerable people in our community.
“The week of action is also a great opportunity for residents to learn more about the Prince Bishops Credit Union. It’s never too early to start or too late to learn good saving habits”.
An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark.
These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment including threats, violence and intimidation.
Paperwork is rarely offered so victims are often in the dark as to how much they are actually paying. Exorbitant extra amounts and interest are added at random- the highest interest seen by an illegal lender was equivalent to 131,000% APR. In some cases the loan sharks have been known to take items as security including passports, driving licences or even bank or post office cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers’ accounts.
Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities. These 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 them in confidence on 0300 555 2222, as we can help”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 347 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 227 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £63.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 25,575 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject