East Devon wages war on loan sharks

PUBLISHED: 12:35 05 December 2012 | UPDATED: 12:41 05 December 2012

Archant

Victims urged to report illegal lenders as a campaign is launched to educate the financially-strapped in the run-up to Christmas.

East Devon District Council has joined the war on loan sharks.

It, together with Trading Standards and the England Illegal Money Lending Team, is to stage a series of drop-in sessions during a week-long campaign that aims to encourage victims to report illegal lenders.

The campaign is deliberately being staged in the run-up to Christmas when the financially hard-pressed are most likely to turn to loan sharks for ready cash.

Councillor Mrs Steph Jones, EDDC’s deputy cabinet member for sustainable homes and communities, said: “By turning to these people for loans, unfortunately what should be a happy time can quickly turn into a dreadful one.

“No matter how much you are struggling, loan sharks are not the answer.”

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “With Christmas just around the corner, this important initiative comes at a time when people are often facing the most financial hardship, and often don’t know where to turn.

“Loan sharks target the vulnerable and cause untold harm and distress to those in our community, and particularly those who are the already facing money problems.

“We’re pleased to be working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team on this initiative to crack down on loan sharks, and protect our residents and legitimate local businesses from these criminals, and to send out a clear message to our residents that there is an alternative to illegal money lenders.”

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 or can afford.

“Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods.

“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”.

Nationally, the Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 218 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to almost 140 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 19,000 victims.

A credit union will also be on hand at the following drop-in sessions:

Tuesday, December 11: 8.30am onwards at Honiton Market, outside the Mackarness Hall.

Wednesday, December 12: 8.30am to 1pm - Farmers’ Market, Exmouth, then 2pm to 4pm outside Co-op, Magnolia Centre.

Thursday, December 13: 9am to 11am Sainsbury’s, Ottery St Mary. Later, 2pm to 4pm at the library, Budleigh Salterton


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