Beware Loan Sharks

Beware Loan Sharks

 An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark.

These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment including threats, violence and intimidation.

Paperwork is rarely offered so victims are often in the dark as to how much they are actually paying.  Exorbitant extra amounts and interest are added at random- the highest interest seen by an illegal lender was equivalent to 131,000% APR. In some cases the loan sharks have been known to take items as security including passports, driving licences or even bank or post office cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers’ accounts.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for communities, said:

“Illegal money lenders target the vulnerable and cause untold harm and distress to those in our community who can least afford to lose out.

“It is important we protect our residents, and make sure they know to avoid loan sharks, particularly in these tough economic times when we are all trying to make our money stretch a bit further. Other alternatives are always available.

“We will not tolerate illegal money lending in Devon, and we are looking forward to coordinating our efforts with the Illegal Money Lending team to crack down on loan sharks and better protect our residents and legitimate local businesses from these criminals.”

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said:

“Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities. These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford. Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods. We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to report them in confidence on 0300 555 2222, as we can help” 

Nationally the Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 235 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to more than 157 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £40.3 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 20,000 victims.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003