Thirteen is raising awareness of loan sharks in local communities

A combined effort from Thirteen’s neighbourhood, money advice and contact teams and a liaison officer from the national illegal money lending team saw door knocking exercises carried out last week in Stockton and Middlesbrough, to help raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks and promote credit unions.

Loan Shark Awareness July 2019 Cropped Resized

9 Jul 2019

Around 300 homes were visited in two days. More than ten local people opened credit union accounts with many more planning to open accounts online, and intelligence was gathered about possible loan shark activity.

Fiona Heighton, financial support services manager at Thirteen said: “Thanks to some great teamwork, last week was a huge success and we are looking at organising more events in other communities to help tackle the issue, because we know that there is loan shark activity in our neighbourhoods.

“They cause real hardship for customers and their family and friends too. I spoke to a lady last week who was deeply in debt and couldn’t get out of the cycle, taking loan after loan. She was going to open a credit union account to ‘make it stop’. We hear stories like this time and again, and that’s why we are working with partners and raising awareness to try and put a stop to loan sharks.”

For anyone that suspects loan shark activity, there are things to look out for. A loan shark might:

·       offer little or no paperwork on a loan, such as a credit agreement or record of payments

·       refuse to give borrowers information, such as the interest rate or how much you owe

·       take items as security, such as passports, bank cards and driving licenses

·       increase the debt or add additional charges at any time

·       refuse to allow you to settle your debt

·       get nasty – they might use intimidation, threats or violence to enforce repayment.

 

Anyone affected by illegal money lending and needing support can talk to the illegal money lending team in confidence by calling their 24/7 helpline on 0300 555 2222 or emailing reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk . Thirteen customers can also speak to their local neighbourhood coordinator.