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Don’t fall victim to a loan shark this Christmas

A national campaign is targeting unscrupulous loan sharks over the festive period, in a bid to help people avoid the pitfalls of borrowing from illegal money lenders.

Starting today (Wednesday 5 December), the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) social media campaign #SLSWeek18 runs until Wednesday 12 December. Follow the Stop Loan Sharks Facebook and Twitter accounts for advice on how to avoid loan sharks, and how to report illegal money lending in your community.

Tony Quigley from the England Illegal Money Lending Team, says:

“Loan sharks are a scourge on our communities, taking advantage of people in desperate situations and trapping them in a cycle of debt and misery. This time of year is especially profitable for them as they prey of people trying to cope with the pressures of Christmas.

“If you do need to borrow this Christmas, do so from a responsible, ethical source such as a credit union, and avoid turning to illegal money lenders.”

What is a loan shark?

Any person lending money should have a consumer credit licence from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Licensed lenders have to comply with legal obligations in dealing with consumers, including the use of official paperwork and fair collection methods.

Loan sharks operate illegally without the correct permissions from the FCA.

These criminals often take benefit or bank cards as security and resort to intimidation and violence if victims default. Loan sharks can charge extortionate interest rates running to thousands of per cent, making it impossible for victims to repay the loan.

If you've been victim to a loan shark

If you've been the victim of a loan shark, you can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or at stoploansharks.co.uk. Their lines are open around the clock throughout the festive season.

Tips for avoiding loan sharks this Christmas

Wirral Credit Union

If you need to borrow money, credit unions are a safer alternative to borrowing from a loan shark. The Wirral Credit Union provides savings accounts and low-cost loans to its members.