Residents across Trafford are being urged not to contact loan sharks during the cost of living crisis.
Trafford Council and partners including Citizens Advice Bureau and the Stop Loan Sharks group are keen to prevent people from approaching illegal money lenders as the crisis worsens.
The appeal comes as people feel tempted to contact loan sharks – particularly in the run up to Christmas – as they see them as offering a way out of their financial troubles.
Loan sharks are illegal, charge very high rates of interest and often threaten violence or take away credit cards and valuables when they are collecting money.
They are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so are therefore breaking the law by lending money illegally.
The Stop Loan Sharks group are offering the following tips to protect people against loan sharks:
Save money regularly if you can, so you are not in urgent need of a loan
Do not accept cash loans, even if the lender seems friendly or helpful
Search the FCA Financial Services register to check if the lender is legal
If you need to borrow money, credit unions are a safer alternative than borrowing from a loan shark visit www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk to find your nearest credit union
The Stop Loan Sharks Project has already secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to over 330 years’ worth of custodial sentences for loan sharks.
They have written off over £74 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.
Cllr Jo Harding, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Strategic Partnerships, said: “People in poverty sometimes take desperate action to obtain financial help – but loan sharks must be avoided.
"They prey on extremely vulnerable people at times of crisis – like now - and offer sums of money that simply cannot be paid back.
"They target families who are struggling and make them feel that they can be the answer to their financial problems – they are not.
“Loan sharks and other illegal money lenders allow people to go into debt and then use threatening behaviour to get money.
"If you feel you are struggling and in need of help, please approach your local credit union rather than the local loan shark.
And if you know of any loan sharks, please report them so they can be stopped from destroying another family or individual.”
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