Thamesbank Credit Union is lending its support to a national campaign aimed at tackling loan sharks and raising awareness of where people can seek help.
The campaign is being led by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) – a national team that investigates and prosecutes loan sharks. They also provide specialist support for people affected by this crime.
A loan shark is someone who lends money without authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). They often tend to initially appear friendly and helpful but can then turn to violent and aggressive behaviour to force victims to repay the loans with huge interest and extortionate penalties.
It’s not always easy to spot a loan shark as they come in many different guises and will at first appear friendly, just part of the community. It’s when you can’t pay that they will turn on you. They could be a regular from the local pub, a parent in the school playground or a friend of a friend.
These criminals lend money illegally, give no paperwork on the loans and charge huge interest rates, creating an ever-growing amount of debt that is impossible to pay back. Blackmail, threats and violence are used to ensure victims keep paying them.
You will usually find these predators lurking in communities, but they also operate on social media, using dating sites and online groups to find, threaten and control people in debt.
Thamesbank Credit Union is urging members to beware of loan offers that seem too good to be true and always check the lender is authorised by the FCA before borrowing money.
If you have already borrowed from a loan shark, the important thing to remember is you are not in trouble and there is help available.
Signs to look out for when dealing with loan sharks:
• Won’t provide you with receipts or proof of payments.
• Increase the debt or add additional amounts to it without your permission.
• Refuse to give information such as the interest rate or how much you owe.
• Not allow you to settle your debt.
• They may resort to intimidation, threats or violence.
• Pretend to be your friend but quickly turn nasty when money is owed
If you need to borrow money, remember credit unions are legitimate lenders and offer a safe and ethical alternative to loan sharks. Find out more about our products and services at www.thamesbank.org.
Image above shows the Certificate of Recognition that was awarded to Thamesbank Credit Union
Anyone with concerns about loan sharks can contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24 Hour Helpline in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.