Don’t get sharked this Christmas
Christmas is an expensive time and money is tight, but Hertfordshire County Council is warning the public against the temptation to turn to loan sharks.
Loan sharks will exploit families especially at this time of year as they know they will be struggling for cash. These lenders act like your best friend. They seem to be doing you a favour, but what may seem like a small loan to tide you over for Christmas and New Year, could end up costing you dearly for years and years – and not just financially. You could be subjected to threats, violence and worse.
Typically loan sharks will:
• Appear friendly at first, enticing you to take out a ‘no-hassle’ loan. But this is often a façade and very quickly the debt begins to spiral, with extra charges added at random.
• Force their borrowers to hand over items ‘as security’. This could include passports, driving licences or even bank cards with the PIN, in order to withdraw directly from borrower’s accounts.
• Offer little or no paperwork, and are unclear of the terms of the loan. People are then left in the dark as to how much they are actually repaying and for how long. Loans of £200 can easily cost £5,000 or more to repay.
Richard Thake, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Using a loan shark can look like an easy way to get money with no questions asked but we are issuing a serious warning against borrowing from one.
“Think about setting up a savings account in future, to put a little aside for Christmas. If you do need to borrow, try to only borrow what you need but make sure it’s from a reputable lender or a Credit Union.”
To find your nearest credit union: http://www.abcul.org or call 0161 832 3694
It is not illegal to borrow from a loan shark. It is the loan shark who has broken the law, not you. You can report these criminals in the strictest confidence and action will be taken.
To report a loan shark call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 or text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003. You can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or send a private message at http://www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
Anne took out a loan for £150 to buy Christmas presents for her young children. She paid back more than £5000, as the loan shark continued to harass her for five years. When she fell ill and was unable to work, she defaulted on payments. She was resting at home with her young daughter when the loan shark accompanied by two other men barged in, demanding to know why she hadn’t paid and pulling items out of her living room.
She said: “There was nowhere to go. I wasn’t even safe in my own house. I was screaming, crying, pleading with him not take my stuff. To think, that my little girl had to see that.”