The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is a project set up to prosecute loan sharks and help any victims.
Working in partnership with local Trading Standards departments around the country, the IMLT works to rid communities of these illegal and unscrupulous lenders. The team has launched a quick, on-line quiz to warn the public about loan sharks. Everyone who takes part will be entered into a free prize draw to win £100 worth of shopping vouchers, with two runners up receiving goody-bags.
Loan sharks can be well-embedded in local areas, with many people seeing them as a ‘friend’ who is helping them out in a crisis, but loan sharks are acting illegally. They can be expensive, and may use threats, violence and intimidation to ensure they are paid. Loan sharks don’t have the correct permissions to lend money from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and being a loan shark is a criminal offence. They offer informal loans with little or no paperwork – leaving the person borrowing with no idea how much they’ve paid, or indeed how long the payments will have to continue. One loan shark victim paid the equivalent of 131,000% APR; another paid a loan shark for 17 years for an initial loan of £250. Loan sharks are an issue all across the country with an estimated 310,000 households affected.
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “If you or anyone you know has been approached by a loan shark, we need to know. The IMLT has prosecuted 310 of these illegal lenders but we know there are more out there and we need your support. Please report them, so we can stop them. Taking part in the quiz is a bit of fun, but with a serious under-lying message – loan sharks should never be a consideration if you need to borrow money. We urge you to contact our hotline on 0300 555 2222 with any information – calls are confidential, and can also be anonymous. The team also offers victim support for anyone involved with a loan shark. We are here to help you – it’s the loan shark who is in trouble”.
To take part in the quiz go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/IMLTchallenge. The closing date for entries is 30th September 2014.
For updates on the campaign visit www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject of twitter: @loansharknews
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
For more information contact Cath Wohlers, Illegal Money Lending Team LIAISE Manager, on 07500 809339 or email Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org. For more general enquiries regarding the National Trading Standards Board please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail email@example.com.
Notes to Editors
National Trading Standards Board
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 was set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards. The National Trading Standards Board provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
Stop Loan Sharks Project
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 £59 million worth of illegal debt and helped nearly 24,500 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.