Bite Back to stop loan sharks

People who are struggling financially can often look for a quick fix, but it’s really important to know that there are always much better options than lending from ‘loan sharks’.

The Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit (WIMLU) is the government agency which investigates and prosecutes loan sharks and they want you to ‘Bite Back’ by reporting these individuals, which will help to remove them from your community.

What is a loan shark?

Loan sharks are people who operate illegally without a consumer credit licence and prey on people who are vulnerable – whether because of poverty or debt, or difficulties in their lives such as addiction or health problems. When money is tight, the offer of ready cash can appear very attractive, but the consequences are often devastating.

WILMU warn that loan sharks will rip off borrowers by charging extortionate interest (400,000% APR is not unheard of!) and adding on penalty payments as and when they want.

“They don’t think twice about adding further debt”

Cllr Hugh Jones, Lead Member for People – Communities, Partnerships Public Protection and Community Safety, said: “Loan sharks can appear friendly when lending you a sum of money, but don’t be deceived…these are exploitative people who will use threats, intimidation and violence to secure their payments.

“They specifically target vulnerable people and they don’t think twice about adding further debt, which can mount up rapidly. You might have planned on paying off your debts within a few weeks, but in all likelihood, you’ll be making payments for much, much longer than this. There’s no paperwork for your loan and loan sharks will make and change the rules as they wish.”

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There is help available

The message to anyone in this situation is that there is help available. You can report in confidence to the illegal moneylending team who can support you and tackle the criminals.

WIMLU urges Wrexham residents to make sure that anyone offering to lend money has a consumer credit authority. If you are a loan shark victim, or think there may be a shark operating nearby, phone WIMLU on the 24 hour Hotline: 0300 123 3311. You can phone anonymously if you want.

Specialist client liaison officers will support and assist victims, advising on debt and other problems. “Loan sharks should be warned,” says WIMLU, “we are determined to stamp out this crime.”

You can email the WIMLU via imlul@cardiff.gov.uk or phone 0300 123 3311 for further information.

Your Credit Union

If you’re struggling financially, and need support, using your Credit Union is a far cheaper and safer way of getting a loan.

Some benefits of doing this are:

• Easy application
• Low interest rates
• Quick decisions
• No early repayment penalties

You can find out more and how to apply here.

If you are struggling with debt and don’t know what to do, there is help for you to get your money under control.

Useful contacts

Citizens Advice Bureau, Wrexham (Social and Welfare Service) – phone 01824 703483
Citizens Advice Bureau, Wrexham (Legal Service) – phone 0844 826 9690
Vesta SFS (Specialist Family Support – for Polish families in Wales) – email info@vestasfs.org

You can also contact Citizens Advice’s Consumer Advice Line on 0808 223 1133

Twitter.com/LoanSharksWales

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