LOAN sharks are in for a hard time following a link up to protect vulnerable families in the Leigh area,
Wigan Council is working in partnership with the National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team to tackle illegal money lending which has affected an estimated 310,000 individuals nationwide.
Research has shown that loan sharks often target people who are on low incomes, as well as those who may, for various reasons, struggle to obtain credit from legitimate sources.
The campaign is aimed at reaching out to those who are most at risk, and showing them that there is support available.
Loan sharks will typically appear friendly at first but their behaviour can quickly change with some resorting to threats, violence and intimidation to enforce their debts.
They operate illegally, without the correct permissions from the Financial Conduct Authority and rarely give paperwork, keeping borrowers in the dark as to how much they are paying back.
Some will even take items such as passports as security or even bank cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers accounts.
Alan Blundell, assistant director of Regulation Services at Wigan Council said: “Loan sharks can’t continue to get away with fleecing people of their hard-earned money. We want to see a fight back against them.
“It’s time for us to give loan sharks the shove. We are telling people about what to look out for, what kind of loan sharks there are, and of the advice available if you think you might have been a victim.
"Wigan Council's Trading Standards and Licensing section is on the frontline when it comes to protecting vulnerable people from loan sharks. This gives us and partners like the National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending team the opportunity to reach out to those most at risk, and educate them and members of the community as to how to avoid falling victim to these insidious schemes."
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said “Our aim as a national team is to make a difference locally. Whether a community is urban, inner city or rural we understand it will have its vulnerability issues and our aim is to tackle any current illegal money lending issues whilst sending a preventative message to ensure families don’t become more vulnerable to these loan sharks who extort and exploit their borrowers.
Anyone who feels they have been a victim is urged to contact the team in strict confidence on 0300 555 2222. Lines are open 24/7 and callers can remain anonymous if they wish.”
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org, text ‘loan shark and your message’ to 60003 or visit www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject and send a private message.