Monday, 28 May 2012

Cornwall Council's loan shark campaign

Full marks to Cornwall Council's new loan shark campaign which has been launched to make people aware of the dangers they face when borrowing money from illegal doorstep money-lenders. The campaign also asks people to come forward if they have been a victim of a loan shark as there is help out there.

There an estimated 310,000 households across the UK turning to illegal money lenders. The loan sharks may appear friendly at first but their behaviour can quickly change, with many adding additional amounts to the illegal debt and charging exorbitant rates of interest. The Team have prosecuted illegal lenders who were charging up to 131,000% APR and some who have resorted to extreme methods such as intimidation, threats or violence to enforce repayment.

The biggest problem for anyone tempted to borrow money from a loan shark is the amount you will have to repay. Interest rates are high and punitive penalties often added for missing a single payment by a day. Many people end up taking out multiple loans to cover a single debt.

Things are bad enough with the legal end of the business where companies like Wonga charge interest rates of more than 4000% and target some of those least able to repay.

If you find yourself in debt and unable to cope, the first place to turn should be the CAB or similar impartial (and free) experts. Although you need to be a member for a while before you can take out a loan, local credit unions offer the best alternative to banks if you need to borrow money.

To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk
Private message  on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks

UPDATE - This story shows why even the legal aspect of loan sharking needs urgent action

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