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New campaign #LetsTalkLoanSharks encourages people to speak out in the fight against illegal money lending

Press Release: 28/09/2022

 

A new campaign has been launched to encourage people to open up the conversation about the dangers of loan sharks to Tameside residents, as well as nationally, 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, backed by Tameside Council, from 26 September to 2 October.

This year’s campaign will focus on reaching vulnerable people who may not realise they are being exploited by loan sharks, including Tameside residents.

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.

The campaign also encourages 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.

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.

Councillor Jacqueline North, Tameside Council First Deputy (Finance, Resources and Transformation), said: “Loan sharks operate in the shadows so it’s vital we break the silence around the harm they cause our local communities. If you’re affected by illegal money lending I urge you to contact the England Illegal Money Lending Team for support as soon as possible, using the details below. Residents having financial difficulties can find more support through our Helping Hand campaign, which can put you in contact with council services and local organisations offering financial, wellbeing and benefit support in Tameside.”

Call the Stop Loan Sharks 24 Hour Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or complete a secure online form by visiting https://www.stoploansharks.co.uk/contact-us/. 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.

For more information on the Helping Hand campaign please visit https://www.tameside.gov.uk/helpinghand or call Tameside Council’s call centre on 0161 342 8355.

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