• Sarah Tempest

Don't Get Bitten By a Loan Shark

Residents are being urged to be on their guard against unscrupulous loan sharks using the Coronavirus outbreak to prey on people’s financial worries. Rooftop regularly holds Loan Shark Awareness events and at this time of crisis, when people are more vulnerable, illegal money lenders may take advantage.

Our Money Advice Team can help give you guidance, information and support and help you with applying for benefits and budgeting https://www.rooftopgroup.org/money-advice so there will be no need for damaging loans.

Loan sharks often use intimidation and threats and charge extortionate interest rates. These criminals may seem friendly at first. As people feel the pinch in these strange times, there may be a temptation to borrow money, but this could have serious consequences for your family.

Some lenders have been known to take a victim’s passport, driving licence, benefits and bank cards as security for the loan, and many begin to make their borrowers feel threatened or intimidated. Some even become violent towards their victims if they fail to pay.

One victim, we’ll call her Becky, was left suicidal after being forced to pay back thousands after borrowing £50 off someone she thought was her friend. The mum of five borrowed £50 to provide for her children and ended up paying back a staggering £35,000 during an eight-year ordeal.

A terrified Becky was threatened with someone named "Big Man" and the loan shark would even text Becky's kids if she was late paying and tell them she "couldn't stop" the Big Man coming to the door unless their mum paid up.

If you are approached by someone who you think might be a loan shark, you can report them to the government-funded England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), which has the power to investigate and prosecute loan sharks.

The Stop Loan Sharks confidential helpline service (0300 555 2222) remains open 24 hours a day and staff are continuing to provide specialist information and support for victims.

You can report a loan shark to them in full confidence and completely anonymously.

You can also talk to Rooftop’s Money Advice Team and discuss any money worries you have. Check their web page https://www.rooftopgroup.org/money-advice or email them money.advice@rooftopgroup.org

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