Sutton Council is encouraging residents needing a short-term financial loan to tide them through Christmas to turn to their local credit union instead of loan sharks and “payday-style” cash loans.
On National Credit Union Day Sutton Trading Standards strongly recommended that someone needing to take out a loan should join a credit union such as CroydonPlus rather than turn to illegal money lenders.
CroydonPlus is open to anyone aged 16 and over who lives or works within the boroughs of Sutton, Merton and Croydon for a non-returnable fee of £5. CroydonPlus recommends you save regularly. To borrow funds you need to be a member and save regularly, but if you receive child benefit you may be able to access a loan immediately.
Sutton Council Trading Standards has signed up to work with the Illegal Money Lending Team. In 2015 Illegal Money Lending Teams secured more than 334 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity nationally, leading to nearly 212 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off more than £63m worth of illegal debt and helped more than 26,000 people.
Illegal moneylending is a crime that affects an estimated 310,000 households across the UK. Loans sharks typically befriend their borrowers before forcing them to pay back far above and beyond what they have borrowed and can afford. As the debts often cannot legally be enforced, in many cases the loan sharks will resort to threats, violence and other bullying and intimidation tactics.
Exorbitant extra amounts and interest payments are added at random, and loan sharks often take as security on the loans items including passports, bank cards and driving licences.
For information on how to report a loan shark or illegal money lending, visit the website www.gov.uk/report-loan
Anyone who believes they are a victim of a loan shark should call the loan shark confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 or email reportaloanshark@stoploa