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Putting Focus On Prosecuting Loan Sharks And The Help Available For People In Debt

Published on: 11 Feb, 2017
Updated on: 11 Feb, 2017

The ways in which loan sharks (illegal money lenders) are being brought to justice and help that is available for people in debt was the focus of a lunchtime event on Wednesday (February 8).

Pictured from left: Community warden Garry Jones, CAP volunteer Edna Yarham, CAP debt coach Suzanne Hoslett, Catherine Illingworth from Boom! Credit Union, community warden Richard Musgove, and behind them the Stop Loan Sharks mascot outfit worn by community warden Lesley Telford.

Hosted by Guildford Borough Council’s community wardens, it was held at the Surrey Sports Park and attended by organisations and individuals who undertake community work, plus councillors and council staff.

A liaise officer from Trading Standard’s national Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) for London and South East spoke about loan sharks, the tactics they use to entice people to go to them and the way they extort money from people.

Attendees at the event were told that loan sharks are everywhere in the UK, and there is a great need to raise awareness of this type of crime.

The message from the IMLT is: “Don’t get in with a loan shark…. it will cost you an arm and a leg.”

It asks: “Have you or anyone you know:

  • Been offered a cash loan without paperwork?
  • Been threatened when you couldn’t pay?
  • Had your benefit or bank card taken from you?
  • Had a loan which keeps growing even though you are making payments?

“If you have answered yes to the above you may have been bitten by a loan shark.”

Tony Quigley, head of service for the National Illegal Money Lending Team said, on behalf of the officer at the event: “We will continue to work to combat loan sharks. They can cause untold misery to the most disadvantaged in our communities. We would urge anyone with information about loan sharking or victims of loan sharks to contact the team on 0300 555 222.”

Click here to find more details on line about how to report someone who you believe is a loan shark and information about the IMLT.

The newly established Boom! Credit Union was represented at the event by Catherine Illingworth. She said that Boom! is working hard to promote its services of affordable loans and savings plans that are aimed at appealing to

  • People on low incomes.
  • People on benefits.
  • People with less than perfect credit ratings.
  • People who may be excluded from mainstream financial services.

She urged those at the event to help promote Boom! to people in their communities who otherwise may choose high-interest loans as a way of trying to get out of debt.

She said: “Boom! offers affordable loans for people who really need them and at the same time we give people the opportunity to save. And for some this is the first time in their lives that have been able to save money.”

Boom! Credit Union is a not-for-profit organisation and independent from any other financial institution. It is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Click here for our previous story about Boom! that contains more details of its services.

The third presentation at the event was by Suzanne Hoslett who is a debt coach for the Guildford area with the organisation Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

She said that CAP is church-based with 306 debt centres across the UK. It is administered from its centre in Bradford.

Anyone in debt can contact CAP for free by calling 0800 328 0006. They will then be put in contact with someone in their local area.

It sees every client in their home, offering both emotional support and a practical solution. CAP’s dedicated head-office staff negotiate with creditors on the client’s behalf and help to draw up a budget.

A team of befrienders ensures that each person paying off debts or going through an insolvency is supported often by others who have experienced the same situations themselves.

Personal debt is mostly commonly caused by low income, joblessness, relationship breakdown or illness in the family.

Guildford CAP Centre, is based at Westborough United Reformed Church and is supported by 17 other local church congregations.

CAP also has 169 job clubs across the UK and a new one is being opened at St John’s Church, Stoke Road, Guildford.

Suzanne Hoslett explained that it starts on February 27 and will be offering a free eight-week course on Monday mornings that will cover topics such as writing a CV, interview practice, guidance on voluntary work and practical help for those seeking employment.

She added that CAP’s job clubs have a higher than average success rate compared to other jobs clubs in helping people find work.

CAP also offers courses to help people manage their finances and these are run by several churches in Guildford.

Click here for our previous story about CAP in Guildford.

The staging of the event was funded by the Proceeds of Crime Act, via the IMLT.

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