Campaign launches to tackle loan sharks in Cornwall
7:00am Sunday 27th May 2012 in News
A campaign to help people avoid to loan sharks, and come forward if they have fallen victim has been launched in Cornwall.
The campaign by the England Illegal Money Lending Team in partnership with Trading Standards will launches on Monday, May 28 at 7pm at the Residents Association Meeting held at the Neighbourhood Centre, 72 Parc an Tansys in Camborne.
Cornwall Councillor for Troon and Beacon, Morwenna Williams, said: “We all need to be aware of the presence of loan sharks. Moreover we need to know how to cope if we are approached by them, and what to do if unfortunately we get involved with them.”
Information and advice on avoiding loan sharks will also be delivered to residents in Guiness Hermitage properties and training sessions will be held for frontline agency staff. Those attending include PCSO’s, community workers and staff from a variety of agencies including Cornish Community Banking Credit Union and Children’s Centres. These sessions are aimed at giving the staff an understanding of the dangers of loan sharks, to help anyone they meet in their day to day work.
The campaign will end on Friday, June 1with a drop in advice day held at the Neighbourhood Centre between 10 am and 12 noon.
A spokesman for the campaign said that there an estimated 310,000 households across the UK turning to illegal money lenders and that while loan sharks may appear friendly at first their behaviour can quickly change, with many adding additional amounts to the illegal debt and charging exorbitant rates of interest.
He added that the team have prosecuted illegal lenders who were charging up to 131,000% APR and some who have resorted to extreme methods such as intimidation, threats or violence to enforce repayment.
Cornwall Council portfolio holder for Community Safety and Public Protection Lance Kennedy added: "Loan sharks are like marauders who attack the weak and vulnerable, people who have been reduced, often through no fault of their own, to desperation. They are fooled into a short term solution which turns into a long term nightmare, help us to stop these people who prey on the community. It is time that we, the community, started taking back the streets and estates by helping each other."
Anyone who is the victim of an illegal lender can call in confidence on 0300 555 2222 Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message via www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject Calls are answered by a trained investigator.
Nationally the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured over 210 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 125 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 18,000 victims.