Salford and Oldham councils are raising awareness of the potential dangers of dealing with loan sharks that can see victims drowning in debt.
Loan sharks are illegal money lenders who target vulnerable people and loan them cash but charge huge interest rates people will usually not be able to pay back.
To make sure residents are not baited by their trickery, Salford and Oldham councils have set up programmes in conjunction with Greater Manchester Police and the Illegal Money Lending Team to get the sharks out of the fish pond and in front of the courts.
Tom Togher, Chief Officer at Salford Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “Borrowing off a loan shark can lead to years of misery, hardship and is always a bad decision.”
Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart launched the scheme, supported by several organisations and Salford Labour, yesterday to keep people on the lookout for signs of they may have come into contact with a loan shark.
Some of these warning signs include if you have been offered a loan with no paperwork, you have been threatened when you couldn’t pay or had your benefit or bank card taken from you.
A shark mascot will also be touring the city of Salford to highlight the intimidation and underhand techniques that the money lenders use to get their money back.
Oldham Council are also organising a week of action from November 3rd to 7th in order to veer people away from illegal money lenders during the festive season.
They are instead encouraging residents to join Oldham Credit Union that can offer fair and straightforward financial services including affordable loans.
Councillor Barbara Brownridge said: “These people are simply criminals who prey on vulnerable people and blight our communities.
“Our message is clear – what may seem like a small loan to pay for presents or just to tide you over, could end up costing you for years to come.”
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team added: “No matter how much you are struggling financially, loan sharks are not the answer.
“They are motivated only by their own greed and are not offering you a service. These criminals should always be avoided at all costs.”
Oldham Credit Union and Salford Credit Union are just some of many alternatives to using a loan shark.
To contact the OCU please call 0161 6787245 or log on to www.oldhamcreditunion.co.uk and to contact the SCU please call 0161 6865880 or email [email protected]
For Salford Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service call 0161 7933550.
If you think you have come into contact with a loan shark or have any information regarding the matter please call the Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 5552222 or email [email protected]
Image courtesy of Salford Council, with thanks.