Residents warned: 'Do not be tempted by loans sharks'

Residents across Trafford are being urged not to be tempted by loan sharks as they count the cost of an expensive Christmas period.

Trafford Council and its partners including the Stop Loan Sharks group are keen to prevent people from borrowing from illegal money lenders as the cost of living crisis continues to bite following the big Christmas spend.

People can often be targeted by loan sharks – particularly in January following Christmas – as they take advantage of those looking for a way out of their New Year financial troubles.

Loan sharks charge very high rates of interest and often threaten violence or take away credit cards and valuables when they are collecting money.

Also, loan sharks are operating illegally and are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Those requiring help are urged not to accept loans from illegal lenders but to search the FCA Financial Services register to check if the lender is legal. They can also join a credit union such as Manchester Credit Union as a safer alternative.

Cllr James Wright, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Housing and Advice, said: “January is always a difficult month for thousands of families as they find themselves having little or no money following the expensive Christmas period. But loan sharks are not the answer and must be avoided at all costs.

“Loan sharks prey on extremely vulnerable people at times of crisis – like now - and offer sums of money that simply cannot be paid back. They target families who are struggling and make them feel that they can be the answer to their financial problems – they are not. Loan sharks and other illegal money lenders allow people to go into debt and then use threatening behaviour to get money. If you feel you are struggling and in need of help, please approach your local credit union rather than the local loan shark.”

Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Illegal lenders might initially appear to be your friend, offering an easy way out of a difficult time, but they go on to make life a misery for their borrowers. Often people are subject to threats, intimidation and even violence when they struggle to repay, and they can end up paying back thousands of pounds more than they borrowed. We will continue to work with our partners across England to do whatever we can to rid our communities of these ruthless criminals.”

If you think you have borrowed from a loan shark, you can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team’s 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222.

Also, the Money Advice Service is a free, independent service and their website has lots of useful information about borrowing and managing your money.

Posted on Friday 12th January 2024