Issued by City of York Council
The Stop Loan Sharks Project, which is supported by City of York Council, is cracking down on illegal doorstep lending this Christmas. Through enforcement action, education and raising awareness the scheme aims to put an end to this crime and encourage the public to celebrate the season without turning to an illegal money lender.
The message is clear from the City of York Council’s Trading Standards team: what may seem like a small loan to tide people over for Christmas could end up costing them well into the New Year and beyond. In the majority of cases, victims are introduced to the lender through a friend, family member or because they are known in the community. Loan sharks rarely offer paperwork and the terms of the loan are unclear, leaving borrowers completely in the dark as to how much they are actually paying. Extra charges and interest payments are often added completely at random, so the debt spirals out of control.
As the debts can’t legally be enforced, the lenders will often resort to threats, violence and other extreme methods to enforce repayment. The national Illegal Money Lending team has investigated some of the most intimidating and violent loan sharks and prosecuted them through the courts – including loan sharks who have threatened to harm victim’s families and pets, throw acid into their faces or burn down their homes. They’ve also seen cases where actual violence has been used including a victim who was kidnapped and attacked with a machete and a female victim who was raped.
York’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is suggesting that residents with debts come and speak to them, so they can advise the best way to manage their money problems. York residents approached or threatened by a loan shark are advised to ring 0300 555 2222 or text LOAN SHARK and the lender’s details to 60003. Alternatively they can email [email protected]
Councillor Dafydd Williams, City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Crime and Stronger Communities said: “Loan sharks prey on those who are vulnerable and in need, and are particularly active at ChristmasNo matter how desperate people become, loan sharks are never the answer.”
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