Turning the tide on loan sharks
Published by Riverside for Riverside in Housing and also in Communities
Julie Riseborough, Riverside’s Head of Performance and Community Engagement, dressed as a loan shark; Carolyn Hewitt, Community Engagement Officer for Riverside; and Cllr Dennis Southwell
Riverside teamed up with the England Illegal Money Lending Team at the New Durham Residents Association’s Summer Fayre to raise awareness of loan sharks.
Riverside has taken several measures to tackle financial exclusion in the North East including training residents to become Community Stop Loan Sharks Advocates and appointing a dedicated Money Advisor for the region.
The event, which was also supported by Home Group and Three Rivers Housing Association, was an opportunity for Riverside to promote these services and signpost residents towards affordable credit such as Durham County Credit Union.
Julie Riseborough, Riverside’s Head of Performance and Community Engagement, said: “They may not have fins or killer jaws, but loan sharks are every bit as dangerous and predatory as their name suggests. Victims are not only charged astronomical interest rates but often face violence, intimidation or blackmail if they fall behind with their payments.
“While Christmas is a few months away, many families become vulnerable to loan sharks over the next couple of months, as they worry how to make Christmas special for their loved ones. However, illegal money lending can spoil Christmas for many years to come and we want residents to know that they do have other options available.”
Around two million UK households, 10% of the population, do not have access to a bank account. A survey revealed that 13% of Riverside’s tenants fall into this category. People who have a bad credit rating, or who don’t have a bank account don’t consider the interest rates that they pay for doorstep loans.
The average cost of borrowing from a loan shark is three times the highest cost of legal credit. The highest interest rate the team have come across so far was equivalent to 131,000% APR. One victim was receiving benefits of £74 per week. The loan shark took £50 a week, leaving them just £24 to live on.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003