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Lurking loan sharks could cost you an arm and a legLast updated: 03 August 2012 15:19
Portsmouth City Council, working in partnership with the England Illegal Money Lending Team, is urging residents to beware of dangerous loan sharks, and are encouraging anyone who has been a victim of this crime to come forward.
As part of Portsmouth Bite Back Fortnight, 6 August until 20 August, The England Illegal Money Lending Team in partnership with Portsmouth Trading Standards are planning three ‘meet sharky’ days. Sid, the team’s mascot, will be helping to attract families to the information stand, where staff will be on hand ready to give out advice and information on avoiding loan sharks.
On Tuesday 7 August, Sid will be at the Mountbatten Leisure Centre, Alexandra Park, between 10am and 2pm. He will then be at Paulsgrove shopping precinct on Thursday 9 August, between 10am and 2pm, and in Commercial Road on Wednesday 15th August, as part of Young People’s Awareness Day.
An estimated 310,000 households across the UK are using loan sharks. It may seem like a quick and easy solution to financial difficulties, but using a loan shark could end up costing you much more than you bargained for. In some extreme cases, there has even been additional interest of up to 130,000% APR.
The team are also hosting awareness raising sessions for local community wardens and housing teams. Staff that work closely with the local community will gain an understanding of the dangers of loan sharks, and be able to signpost and support anyone who has been the victim of this crime.
Local people will be encouraged to look out for the following warning signs, which could indicate a loan shark is operating:
• A lender who offers little or no paperwork.
• A lender who is unclear on the terms of the loan.
• A lender who adds additional amounts and interest charges at random.
• A lender who takes items as security (including passport, bank and post office cards)
• A lender who is threatening, intimidating or violent.
Cllr Aiden Gray, cabinet member for community safety at the council, said:
“We’re running a series of events across the city to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks. They can be very dangerous, and though they may seem friendly at first they can turn nasty very quickly. I would urge anyone approached by these illegal money lenders to be very careful.
“If you have any concerns about loan sharks operating in your local area, don’t hesitate to contact the hotline to report this crime.”
You may find yourself tempted to take out a quick paper-free loan, but you could end up paying it back for years on end, without ever making a dent in the original amount.
When the friendly facade inevitably fades, you might even find yourself and your family being hassled, targeted and bullied for repayments.
Loan sharks, also known as illegal money lenders, don’t have a Consumer Credit Licence and therefore have no legal right to offer you a loan or demand repayments.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“Loan sharks are a scourge on our communities, causing nothing but misery and harm. They may appear friendly at first but will quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. We are continuing to crack down on loan sharks, and are sending a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated.
“We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to use our hotline and speak to us in the strictest confidence.”
If you have accepted a loan with a loan shark, call the hotline line on 0300 555 2222 to report the crime in confidence. Calls are charged at your local rate, including inclusive minutes from your mobile.
Alternatively you can text ‘loan shark’ and your message to 60003, email firstname.lastname@example.org or private message the team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
Don’t forget, if you contact us you will not get in any trouble with the authorities because illegal money lending is a crime, and you are the victim.
For more information, please visit the Direct Gov website at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/ManagingDebt/DebtsAndArrears/DG_10035958
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