Campaign warns vulnerable at risk from loan sharks

LOAN sharks are preying on vulnerable individuals, senior councillors in North Yorkshire have warned as a campaign was launched to highlight the problem.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council’s trading standards team and Scarborough Borough Council are launching a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks in the Scarborough district.

An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark and on Monday a representative from the England Illegal Money Lending Team will talk about the dangers of loan sharks to Barrowcliff Residents Association.

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Training sessions will also be held for staff at Yorkshire Coast Homes, to give them a greater understanding of the dangers of loan sharks and enable them to support anyone they meet in their day to day work who has been a victim of the crime. The team will also work with Yorkshire Coast Homes as they visit residents in the Eastfield area of Scarborough to offer information and advice.

The visit is part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the problem.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for trading standards, said: “Loan sharks rarely offer paperwork and are unclear on the terms of the loan, so borrowers are completely in the dark as to how much they are actually paying.

“Extra amounts and interest payments are added completely at random, so the debt spirals to be never-ending.”

Coun Bill Chatt, Scarborough Borough Council’s portfolio holder for public health and housing, said: “This crime is an extremely serious problem and we are committed to working with communities to stop the harm and misery loan sharks cause.”

Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford.

“Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods.”

Anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark can call 0300 555 2222.