Loan shark victims urged to speak out
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Legal
A new campaign has been launched aimed at encouraging victims of loan sharks to speak out.
The Stop Loan Sharks Project is a nationwide appeal that has been created to help the estimated 310,000 households across the UK living in fear of money lenders.
Loan sharks use threats, violence and other extreme methods to force borrowers into paying back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford.
Now The Illegal Money Lending Team, which works in partnership with Trading Standards Authorities, is urging anyone who has been a victim of a loan shark, or knows of a friend or family member who has been affected to speak out.
Tony Quigley, head of the Team, said: “We know that 20 percent of victims in past cases took out loans for Christmas, so we anticipate that those who borrowed for Christmas 2012 may now be beginning to struggle to keep up with exorbitant extra charges and interest payments.
"Most loan sharks appear friendly at first, and whilst borrowers may not have had difficulties over the festive period, they may now be beginning to see another side to the lender, where they are being subjected to extreme and callous methods, including threats, violence and intimidation.”
“We understand that victims may be frightened but please speak to us, before the situation escalates. It’s important to remember that loan sharks are committing a criminal offence and profiteering at the expense of others. We have already helped more than 19,000 victims of this crime to turn their lives around and can and will support you.”
Victims are being urged to report lenders who:
• Offer little or no paperwork.
• Are unclear on the terms of the loan (how much interest is added, how long must you repay for)
• Take items as security, including passports, driving licences and even bank cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers’ accounts.
• Resort to threats, violence and other extreme methods to enforce debts as they can’t enforce them legally.
Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said: ”January and February can be some of the most difficult months financially for families struggling with their Christmas expenses. Loan sharks know this and can prey on families in their most vulnerable state, resulting in many victims suffering even greater loss and enduring fear and suffering within their community. I would urge anyone who has been affected to take heed of this important message and report a loan shark.”
Anyone with information can call 0300 555 2222 to speak to a trained investigator. Lines are open 24/7, all calls are treated in the strictest confidence and callers may remain anonymous if they wish.