TAMESIDE residents are urged to beware of loan sharks taking advantage at Christmas.
Tameside Council is supporting a national campaign aimed at clamping down on illegal money lenders and advising residents to turn to a credit union such as Cash Box.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has launched the social media campaign, running until December 12, to give users advice on how to avoid falling victim to loan sharks, as well as reporting illegal money lending in their community.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “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 on 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.”
Cllr Allison Gwynne, Tameside Council’s Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Christmas can bring a lot of financial pressures and I would urge anyone in need of financial support to turn to a credit union like Cash Box rather than a loan shark who could take advantage and charge extortionate interest rates.”
Any person lending money should have a consumer credit licence from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and has to comply with legal obligations.
Loan sharks operate illegally without the correct FCA permission and can often take benefit or bank cards as security, resort to intimidation and violence if victims default and charge extortionate interest rates running to thousands of per cent.
Tips to protecting yourself against Loan Sharks:
A credit union is a form of community bank, owned and managed by its members, that provides secure savings and low interest loans for its members. For more details contact Cash Box Credit Union on 0161 342 3266 or visit www.cashbox.org.uk.
The Stop Loan Sharks Project has already secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to over 330 years’ worth of custodial sentences for loan sharks. They have written off over £74 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.
If you have been the victim of a loan shark, you can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or stoploansharks.co.uk. Their lines are open around the clock throughout the festive season.
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