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Vulnerable families targeted in national awareness campaign
Tuesday 27th May, 2014

A campaign to help vulnerable families in Wigan Borough avoid being targeted by loan sharks is taking place.

Wigan Council is working in partnership with the National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team to tackle loan sharks for the “Vulnerable Families” campaign.

In Wigan Borough, training sessions will be held for frontline staff by the Illegal Money Lending Team, giving them a greater understanding of the dangers of loan sharks, and enabling them to support and signpost anyone who has been a victim.

Illegal money lending is an issue all across the country with an estimated 310,000 individuals affected.

Research has shown that loan sharks will often target people who are on low incomes, as well as those who may, for various reasons, struggle to obtain credit from legitimate sources. The campaign is aimed at reaching out to those who are most at risk, and showing them that there is support available.

Loan sharks will typically appear friendly at first but their behaviour can quickly change with some resorting to threats, violence and intimidation to enforce their debts. They operate illegally, without the correct permissions from the Financial Conduct Authority and rarely give paperwork, keeping borrowers in the dark as to how much they are paying back. Some will even take items such as passports as security or even bank cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers accounts.

Alan Blundell, assistant director of Regulation Services at Wigan Council said: “Loan sharks can’t continue to get away with fleecing people of their hard-earned money. We want to see a fight back against them.

“It’s time for us to give loan sharks the shove. We are telling people about what to look out for, what kind of loan sharks there are, and of the advice available if you think you might have been a victim.

"Wigan Council's Trading Standards and Licensing section is on the frontline when it comes to protecting vulnerable people from loan sharks. This gives us and partners like the National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending team the opportunity to reach out to those most at risk, and educate them and members of the community as to how to avoid falling victim to these insidious schemes."

Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said “Our aim as a national team is to make a difference locally. Whether a community is urban, inner city or rural we understand it will have its vulnerability issues and our aim is to tackle any current illegal money lending issues whilst sending a preventative message to ensure families don’t become more vulnerable to these loan sharks who extort and exploit their borrowers.

“We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark, or knows of someone who has to contact us in the strictest confidence on 0300 555 2222. Lines are open 24/7 and callers can remain anonymous if they wish.”

To report a loan shark, call 0300 555 222, email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk, text ‘loan shark and your message’ to 60003 or visit www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject and send a private message.

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