The England Illegal Money Lending Team in partnership with Herefordshire Council and other local partners is to launch a countywide ‘Bite Back’ campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks.
The campaign, which is funded with money recovered from convicted loan sharks, aims to encourage residents to not only turn away from loan sharks, but to also report the crime if they have been a victim.
A free fun fair event is taking place on Thursday 26 September from 2pm to 6pm at the HOPE Centre on Hereford Road in Bromyard, where concerned residents can meet the England Illegal Money Lending Team. Although the team will be on hand to provide advice on a serious issue, the family event will also offer a lot of fun with the team’s mascot Sid the shark, ‘hook a shark’ and buzz wire games, prizes, free refreshments and even a surf machine.
There will also be a public finance day on Friday 27 September from 12pm to 3pm at Herefordshire Housing’s South Wye office on Kilvert Road in Hereford. The event will be officially opened by the Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Len Tawnand organisations including Money Box Credit Union, Citizens Advice Bureau and the council’s trading standards team will be on hand to discuss any money worries.
Tim Thorne, Herefordshire Council’s principal trading standards officer, said: “An estimated 310,000 households across the UK are in debt to a loan shark, which is why the council fully supports the excellent work being carried out by the England Illegal Money Lending Team.
“Loan sharks will appear friendly at first, but this quickly changes when they trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As outstanding debts can’t legally be enforced, many lenders will resort to the most extreme, callous and often criminal methods to ensure repayment including threats, violence and intimidation.
“As paperwork is rarely offered, victims are often in the dark as to how much they are actually repaying and exorbitant extra amounts and interest is known to have been added.”
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities. These lenders may appear to be offering a community service, but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford. Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods and we would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to report them in confidence on 0300 555 2222, as we can help.”
To report a loan shark: