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3 February 2011, 05:00 | Updated: 16 February 2011, 12:34
A man from our region, who became the victim of an illegal lender, is urging people across the UK to come forward and speak out, so they can avoid going through the misery he did.
Mike*, suffered at the hands of an illegal lender for twenty years before spotting an article in his local newspaper and contacting the Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team.
He believes that he paid back over £90,000 to the illegal lender within this period. He worked three jobs to keep up with constant payments, but it was never enough.
Mike’s involvement with the loan shark had a horrific impact on his physical and mental health. He suffered a heart attack at the age of 33, his relationship with his wife suffered and he even contemplated taking his own life.
Mike said “I don’t want anyone to go through what I have been through. I want people to realise that help is out there, and they should seek it before they get to the way I was.
The loan shark never gave us a chance to clear our debts with him; he just kept the pressure on all of the time. At no time did he ever tell us what we owed. I’ve suffered at the hands of a loan shark and know how hard it can be to speak out, but I want to tell others that there is no need to be frightened”
Mike who describes the experience as ‘hell’ was attacked by the illegal lender in his own home. His children witnessed a separate attack, in which the illegal lender badly injured a friend of Mike’s. The illegal lender would take items from Mike’s home including games consoles belonging to the children.
However since the illegal lender was prosecuted by the Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team and received a prison sentence, Mike has been able to rebuild a new life and plan for the future
“Contacting the Illegal Money Lending Team saved my life” said Mike “They were with me every step of the way and I can’t thank them enough. I was at my lowest point, working night and day to pay back the loan shark. With their support, I’ve now been able to turn my life around and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
Debts from illegal lenders are unenforceable in law, and those who have borrowed from illegal lenders will not be in trouble with the authorities- it is the illegal lender who has committed a crime.
A recent report revealed an estimated 310,000 households have borrowed from illegal lenders, with many victims living in fear of violence. In the post- Christmas period there are concerns that people will be struggling to pay back loans taken out to pay for the festive season.
Mike and the Illegal Money Lending Team are urging anyone who may be borrowing from an unlicensed lender to call the teams national hotline in the strictest confidence on 0300 555 2222.
* Name has been changed.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks