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Sid The Shark Comes to Rugby on 4/12/10

Published: 30th November 2010 14:34

Sid the Shark will be visiting the Clock Towers Shopping Centre in Rugby on Saturday 4th December between 10am and 3pm to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing money from loan sharks.

Warwickshire County Council's Trading Standards Service has teamed up with the Illegal Money Lending Team to make Warwickshire a loan shark free zone.

Officers will be holding advice and information events at shopping centres and supermarkets across the County.
Loan sharks or illegal money lenders are on the rise with 310,000 householders now believed to be using them, many to pay for Christmas. They offer loans which cost far more than high street lenders would charge (the highest seen has been 131,000% APR).

A loan shark may offer to lend you £200 and want £400 back in 12 weeks, that's an APR of almost 535%, more than 10 times what you might be charged by a legal business. And, if you don't pay loan sharks will only add further ‘charges', increasing your debt to them and use intimidation and violence.

But remember: borrow money from a loan shark and they are breaking the law, not you and you can't be legally forced to pay it back. Help is available from Warwickshire Trading Standards Service and the Illegal Money Lending Team.

The Illegal Money Lending Team have already helped over 16,000 victims of illegal lenders and written of £25million worth of illegal debt.

Loan sharks have received almost 80 years in prison sentences for illegal money lending and related offences (plus an indefinite sentence for public protection) and the team has seized and confiscated £2.5million in cash.

Warwickshire County Councillor, Richard Hobbs, Portfolio Holder for Community Protection said:

"Never be tempted to try and pay for Christmas by using a loan shark, you may very well find you are still paying a year later! There are other options you can explore and we can help.

"I would strongly urge anyone who needs more help, advice, information or support to contact the Illegal Money Lending Team or visit us at one of our pre-Christmas events."

Tony Quigley Head of the Central England Trading Standards Authority illegal money lending team said:

"Illegal lenders have a hugely detrimental impact on our communities. Many people are left living in misery and fear because of the way illegal lenders operate. One judge described the associated criminal activity as ' murder of the soul'. This will not be tolerated. Call us in confidence on 0300 555 2222"

Trading Standards Officers and the Illegal Money Lending Team will hold events at the following venues to raise awareness, offer information and advice and make Warwickshire a Loan Shark Free Zone.

Sat 4 December 10am to 3pm The Clock Towers Shopping Centre Rugby
Sat 11 December 10am to 3pm Maybird Shopping Park Stratford upon Avon

Are you or someone you know a loan shark victim?

Have you been offered a cash loan?
Have you been threatened when you couldn't pay?
Has your bank card been taken from you as a security?
Does what you owe keep growing even though you are making payments?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you may be a loan shark victim and we can help.

Come along to one of our events or alternatively, contact the Illegal Money Lending Team in complete confidence

Phone: 0300 555 2222 (local rate call, including inclusive minutes from mobiles)
Email: reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk
Web: www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
Text: loan (space) shark (space) + your message to 60003

Five common myths about loan sharks

There are lots of rumours and myths around loan sharks and what they do.

These are some of the most common ones, along with the truth.

1) The myth: 'Unlicensed money-lending is not illegal'
The truth: It is illegal for anyone to operate a money-lending business if they don't have a licence for this from the Office of Fair Trading

2) The myth: 'If you borrow money from a loan shark, you are breaking the law'
The truth: It's the loan shark who is breaking the law - not the person who has borrowed the money. You can't be prosecuted for having taken a loan from a loan shark

3) The myth: 'You have to pay back what the loan shark says you owe'
The truth: Any loan made by someone without a licence is 'unenforceable' - this means you cannot legally be made to pay it back

4) The myth: 'Illegal money-lending is a victimless crime'
The truth: Those who have borrowed money from illegal lenders are often threatened and intimidated into paying back much more than they borrowed. Whole communities can be affected if borrowers are forced to turn to crime to pay back out-of-control loans. Loan sharks are also often involved in other crime

5) The myth: 'Loan sharks are providing a reasonably priced service to people who need it'
The truth: A loan from a loan shark is, on average, three times the cost of the same loan from someone operating legally. Interest rates of between 8000% and 117,000% have been uncovered

In debt or looking for alternative sources of credit? There are a number of organisations that can help, including Credit Unions and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

For more information, please visit our website: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/stoploansharks



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