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National Stop Loan Sharks Week launches as teams say Don’t Get Caught Out in the Run Up to Christmas

​A nationwide campaign to encourage people to speak out against loan sharks is being spear headed by three Illegal Money Lending Teams, as they launch National Stop Loan Sharks Week

A nationwide campaign to encourage people to speak out against loan sharks is being spear headed by three Illegal Money Lending Teams, as they launch National Stop Loan Sharks Week (November 30th-December 6th)

A series of events, initiatives and campaigns held across England, Scotland and Wales will target residents, encouraging them to engage with the Illegal Money Lending Teams and say no to loan sharks in the run up to Christmas. Previous research has shown that this time of year can make people particularly vulnerable to loan shark activity.

The National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team in England is trying to hash-tag loan sharks out of the country by undertaking a social media campaign featuring a tweetathon, and photos of the team’s mascots on tour. They are presenting an award to the Stop Loan Shark Award Winners, Bishop Auckland Theatre Hooligans for their work using drama to warn people about the dangers of loan sharks. The team will be signing charters to engage local agencies in Middlesbrough and Newcastle, and are revealing posters designed by Bolton University students to provide communities with information following on from convictions of illegal lenders. The aim of the campaign is to get people talking about loan sharks, breaking the taboo, and encouraging people to seek help.

Trading Standards Scotland is delighted to be taking part in National Stop Loan Sharks week. The team will be working with various agencies across Scotland to raise awareness of the problems that loan sharks can cause vulnerable consumers especially at this time of year. Various events are being run across Scotland to mark the week including: work with one parent families, training for staff and work with health and wellbeing groups. Information will be disseminated across Scotland’s 32 local authorities to assist in raising awareness of the issues.

The National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Unit in Wales is going to be busy throughout Wales during this week, publicising the Stop Loan Sharks message. Among the events planned, is Lenny and Lottie’s Christmas party. Lenny and Lottie are the team’s two life size loan sharks, who will be entertaining children in Rhyl at a free event, which features games, exotic animals, and refreshments, all with a financial capability theme. Prizes include tickets to Seaquarium, an iPad, and lots of other goodies.

Pupils at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff, and Ysgol Glan y Mor in Pwllheli have been learning about illegal lending using WIMLU’s financial education packs. For Stop Loan Sharks week, the pupils have taken part in competitions to design posters for WIMLU, using the material they have been studying. The standard of the posters is outstanding, and the best entry from each school will win an iPad for a lucky pupil.

Finally, the team in Wales is also launching its ‘Don’t get bitten this Christmas’ campaign during Stop Loan Sharks week. Flyers and other materials are going to be widely distributed and publicised throughout Wales, spreading the message about avoiding dangerous borrowing in the run up to Christmas.

Illegal Money Lending is a crime which affects an estimated 310,000 households across the UK. Loans sharks typically befriend their borrowers before forcing them to pay back above and beyond what they have borrowed and can afford.

Exorbitant extra amounts and interest payments are added at random, and items including passports, bank cards and driving licences are taken as security on the loans.

As the debts often cannot legally be enforced in many cases the loan sharks will resort to threats, violence and other bully tactics.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 332 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 212 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off over £63 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 26,000 people.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:

“This time of year is notorious for people falling prey to illegal money lenders, who typically strike just when people feel under real financial pressure. It is crucial that people know that there is help available to them if they get into financial difficulty – loan sharks are illegal, predatory and should never be considered as an option.

“I welcome the efforts of all those taking part in Stop Loan Sharks Week to raise awareness of the consequences of this criminal practice. If you suspect someone of being involved in illegal money lending I urge you to report them to report at www.gov.uk/report-loan-shark."

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
E-mail: reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

Notes to Editors

For more information contact Cath Wohlers, LIAISE Manager from the England team on 07500 809339 or email Catherine.wohlers@birmingham.gov.uk. For more general enquiries regarding National Trading Standards please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail nationaltradingstandards@grayling.com.

Notes to Editors

National Trading Standards

National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.

The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.

For more information please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk

Stop Loan Sharks

The Stop Loan Sharks Project consists of three Illegal money lending teams in England, Scotland and Wales. The National Trading Standards Board has responsibility for the England and Wales Illegal Money Lending Teams that are hosted by Birmingham City Council and Cardiff Council. There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 310 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 200 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £55 million worth of illegal debt and helped nearly 24,000 people.

The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities in their related countries. They consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.