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3 March 2012, 06:00
Heart's being told about a new scheme to try and stop people in Norfolk and Suffolk going to loan sharks.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team have been working locally in partnership with Suffolk County Council and the Ipswich & Suffolk Credit Union, as well as Norfolk County Council and the Norwich & Norfolk Credit Union, to encourage people to say no to illegal money lenders and look at the alternatives which are available.
Through a joint initiative proceeds of crime money, confiscated from convicted illegal money lenders and other criminals is being used to sponsor new credit union accounts. The unions are inviting their members to recruit a friend. As a reward they will be credited £10 to both the current and new member's account. The offer is available to the first one hundred applicants who will each need to make two deposits in order to receive their credit. Joiners are required to present proof of ID to the credit union.
An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders.
People are urged never to use unlicensed lenders who:
Refuse to tell the borrower how much they owe, how long they will be repaying for or the APR rate.
Do not give paperwork.
Add additional charges or increase the debt.
Take items such as passports, bank cards or driving licences as security.
Appear friendly at first, but resort to violent, threatening or extreme methods when payments are not met.
Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council's Portfolio Holder for Public Protection said; "We will not tolerate unlicensed lenders who prey on the most vulnerable people in our community.
We are proud to say that some of the proceeds of crime money being paid out under this scheme come from criminals who have been successfully prosecuted by Suffolk Trading Standards. We will continue to work with our colleagues in other authorities to do all we can to combat loan sharks' trade."
Tony Quigley Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said "Illegal money lenders can have a horrific impact on our communities, and should never be used under any circumstances. We are cracking down on unlicensed lenders who make peoples lives a misery. It is important for people to realise that alternatives to borrowing from loan sharks are available and we are here to help if you have already taken out a loan from an illegal money lender. Please call our confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, if you or someone you know is in this situation."
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text: loan shark + your message to 60003
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/stoploansharks
For more information on joining the credit union:
Call: 01473 690690
Or logon to www.iscu.org.uk