The England Illegal Money Lending Team have issued this press release for Stop Loan Sharks Week this week (26th September)
New campaign #LetsTalkLoanSharks encourages people to speak out in the fight against illegal money lending
It's time to break the silence on illegal money lending.
A new campaign is being launched to encourage people to open the conversation about the dangers of loan sharks and highlight the support that is available to those who have been affected by illegal money lending.
A report published by the Centre for Social Justice estimated that 1.08 million people could be borrowing from an illegal money lender – more commonly known as a loan shark. This figure has more than trebled since 2010.
Loan sharks are criminals who lend money at extortionate rates of interest, threatening significant harm to borrowers if they do not pay. These ruthless lenders use coercive control and psychological threats to keep victims trapped in an endless cycle of debt for years, often with devastating consequences.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is running its national Stop Loan Sharks Week campaign from the 26th September to 2nd October 2022 to highlight the help available to those who have been targeted by loan sharks, as well as increase awareness of this hidden crime in communities.
This year’s campaign will focus on reaching vulnerable people who may not realise they are being exploited by loan sharks, as well as raising awareness of the support available to those who have already come into contact with an illegal lender.
The #LetsTalkLoanSharks campaign aims to remove the shame and banish the stigma around illegal money lending by encouraging conversations among families, friends, neighbours, customers, colleagues and communities.
It also encourages frontline professionals to have a loan shark conversation with every client they see during the week, whether or not each individual is showing signs of borrowing from a loan shark.
People who have borrowed from loan sharks often keep this information to themselves, but by asking a few simple questions, you could help someone feel supported enough to disclose their situation so they can get the help they need.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks are mercilessly preying on the most vulnerable and using deceptive tactics to trap families in a cycle of debt and fear.
“This campaign is dedicated to stopping the scourge of illegal money lending, which is responsible for so much harm and despair. Breaking the silence around this issue is essential to protecting our communities and helping those affected.
“We are working with our partners across England to bring awareness and information to all those affected by illegal lending – and encouraging frontline workers to spot the signs and ‘ask the question’ when dealing with vulnerable clients who may be at risk of being targeted by loan sharks.
“We want to open up the conversation about illegal lending and loan sharks, helping people realise that they are not alone and empowering them to talk about their situation openly and honestly, without embarrassment or stigma.”
New figures released by the IMLT show that over one-third (35%) of victims had sought debt advice but were reluctant to report the loan shark to their support worker due to fear of reprisals from the lender.
If you think a person might be involved with a loan shark, there are some warning signs to look out for. A loan without paperwork and an extortionate rate of repayment are usually obvious signs. Watch out for sudden changes in their behaviour, or evidence that they are handing over personal items such as their bank card, passport or jewellery to someone they owe money to.
How to support someone you’re worried about:
If someone is struggling to deal with loan sharks and debt, they may feel isolated, vulnerable and ashamed. While it might feel awkward to talk about these issues, asking the right questions and encouraging the person to open up about their experience can help them take the first step in seeking help. It will also make them feel at ease and less alone.
It’s important to simply provide a space for that person to share their thoughts or talk through their experiences. This will make them feel safe and understood. As a friend, family member, colleague or support worker, you can make this happen by being there to listen without judgement.
If you’re having trouble getting someone to open up about their loan shark problem, here are some ways to start the conversation: “Have you ever been pressured into taking out a loan with high interest rates?”, “Are you paying back more than what you borrowed?”, “Has anyone acted aggressively towards you
when you didn’t pay back a loan? If so, did they use any type of physical force or threats?”.
If you have been affected by loan sharks or have concerns about someone you know, confidential advice and support is available from the Illegal Money Lending Team. Call the Stop Loan Sharks 24 Hour Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or visit the website for more information at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
The #LetsTalkLoanSharks campaign will run across the Stop Loan Sharks England social media accounts and aims to raise awareness of loan sharks, the dangers they pose and share practical tips on how people can protect themselves.
Buy Now Pay Later:
Most of us have heard of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) schemes, which allow you to spread the cost of a purchase over several instalments. These are becoming increasingly popular and easier to access than ever.
Some common providers of BNPL schemes that you might have heard of are:
You might be tempted to use BNPL, but it’s important that you think about it before you do. Some providers don’t give you much information up front, so it can be difficult to know whether it is a good idea or not.
It is important to remember that BNPL is just another way to borrow money, many people don’t think of it like this because it is presented as another way to pay at the checkout. However, if you don’t keep up your payments, you can be charged significant fees which means it can quickly get very expensive. Have a look at our example below:
You want to buy some clothes online, but you can’t find everything you want at the same place. You make four separate purchases at four different retailers. The total cost is £75 and you choose to spread the cost over 3 months.
However, because you made 4 different purchases, this means that you have four different agreements. Instead of one payment of £25 coming out every month, you will actually make 4 payments of £6.25 every month. This is fine, as long as you can make these payments.
In the second month, there is a problem with your bank account, and you don’t have enough to make the scheduled payments so your bank rejects them. As the payments failed, you are charged a late fee. But because you have 4 separate agreements, you’re charged 4 separate late fees of £6 each.
This means that you’ve been charged an extra £24, which is nearly 33% of what you spent in the first place! If you’re late the following month, there will be another £24 charge. So instead of paying £75 for your clothes, you actually pay £123!
Now, imagine that as well as those clothes, you’d also bought some new video games and some gifts for a birthday. You can see how these fees very quickly add up and can become unmanageable. You might wish you hadn’t used BNPL at all, and you wouldn’t be alone. Citizen’s Advice research suggests that 1 in 4 people that used BNPL regretted it. This is because they either spent more than they could afford, or paid more than they expected.
Buy Now Pay Later isn’t currently regulated. This means that the lender doesn’t have to check whether you can afford to make the repayments, which means that you could be borrowing more than you can afford.
You might have heard that BNPL doesn’t appear on your credit file and this is true for some lenders. But it can still affect your credit score. Some people who use BNPL end up not paying other debts, or falling behind on bills, which will be recorded on your credit file. In severe cases, people have struggled to pay for essentials such as food or rent. This is often because the payments come out automatically, and people forget how much is due, and when it is coming out.
Buy Now Pay Later works for some people, and it can be a good way of making large purchases more affordable. But it can also trap people in spiralling costs. If you buy now, you should always make sure you can definitely afford to pay later!
If You’re Struggling:
If you need help with your finances, you can talk to us! Give us a ring on 01642 633877 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org – one of our caseworkers will get in touch and help you to work out the best solution for you.
For more information on Buy Now Pay Later you can visit the Money Helper site at https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/everyday-money/types-of-credit/what-are-buy-now-pay-later-purchases
We are delighted to announce that Stockton & District Advice & Information Service has been awarded recognition from the England Illegal Money Lending team for our work in helping to tackle loan sharks across the Borough!
This recognition comes as research suggests more and more people are turning to illegal money lending because of the rising cost of living.
If you're a victim of illegal money lending, it is important to remember that you're not alone and there is support available to help you no matter what your circumstances are. For information on how to spot Loan Sharks, and what to do if you think you've borrowed from one, visit our Stop Loan Sharks page.
If you think you're at risk of immediate harm you should call 999 and ask for the Police.
SDAIS gets support from National Lottery Community Fund
Almost £65 million of vital National Lottery funding has gone to communities across England between September and November 2021 to support them as they recover from the pandemic, helping them to build back stronger into the New Year and beyond.
The life-enhancing sum, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, has been awarded to over 2,000 community groups and will support communities as they continue rebuilding after two incredibly challenging years.
Stockton and District Advice and Information Service (SDAIS) is one of the organisations that has benefitted from this funding. The Service is the Citizens Advice Bureau for the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees, and the funding from the National Lottery Community Fund will enable SDAIS to recruit and train more volunteer advisers and improve welfare advice and support for people with ill mental health.
SDAIS Manager Ian Bartlett said, “I would really like to thank all the players of the National Lottery because this funding comes from them. We have always been busy helping people with a wide range of welfare problems, and COVID has just meant even more problems for people to deal with. This support from the National Lottery will mean we can give welfare advice to more people over the next 2 years.”
Before you claim Universal Credit you should get advice. Benefits are complicated and you may have a choice of multiple benefit options.
The benefits that are right for you will depend on your circumstances at the time. If you don’t get advice you could lose money and once you have made a claim for Universal Credit you normally can’t switch benefit claims. You should always get advice first.