A new incentive has been launched in Wiltshire to encourage residents to start saving and make them aware of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) are working in partnership with Wiltshire Savings and Loans to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders, more commonly known as loan sharks.
A joint initiative will see the team use proceeds of crime money, confiscated from convicted loan sharks, to sponsor new credit union accounts.
The first fifty people to join Wiltshire Savings and Loans in Wiltshire before the 31st October and make at least three payments into their account will qualify for a savings boost of £25.00.
Tony Quigley, Head of Service for the National Illegal Money Lending Team said:
“Illegal money lenders can have a horrific impact on our communities, and should never be used under any circumstances.
“We’d always urge residents to look at borrowing from safe and legal alternatives, such as their local credit union. Loan sharks may appear friendly at first and act as though they’re offering a community service, but don’t be fooled by this behaviour as it soon changes once monies are owed.
“If you or someone you know has been a victim of a loan shark, the team are here to help on 0300 555 2222. You call will be handled by a trained IMLT officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”
An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt. Many loan sharks will resort to bullying tactics, such as intimidation, threats and even violence to enforce repayment.
Clive Henly, Chairman of Wiltshire Savings and Loans said:
“Like all credit unions, Wiltshire Savings and Loans is committed to helping people manage their money. When people save a little regularly, we can help them when they face an emergency or if they want to make a special purchase. Our interest rates are always kept low, and there never any hidden charges. Our credit union is owned and run by its members, ensuring that we always serve the local community.”
For more information on how to become a member of Wiltshire Savings and Loans, please call 01722 421881.
People are urged never to use loan sharks who may refuse to tell the borrower how much they owe, how long they will be repaying for or the interest rate they will be charged. Often they do not give paperwork and loans will just keep growing even if the borrower is making regular payments. These criminals may appear friendly at first, but may resort to violence, threats and intimidation if payments are not met.
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 379 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 325 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £72.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,000 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject