Loan shark warning for Swindon residents
Swindon Borough Council has teamed up with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to encourage residents to join a Credit Union and avoid borrowing money from loan sharks.Published: Friday, 24th August 2018
Thousands of residents will this week receive a newsletter as part of a national campaign by the England IMLT to prevent people who have financial difficulties from borrowing cash from a loan shark.
The England IMLT, which is funding the newsletter, is the Government body behind Stop Loan Sharks. The team was set up in 2004 to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders while protecting those who have borrowed money from a loan shark.
Since launch, the England IMLT has supported more than 28,000 people and written off over £73.7 million worth of illegal debt.
The England IMLT advises people unsure of what a loan shark is to ask themselves a series of questions. If they answer yes to one or more of the questions then it is likely they are borrowing from a loan shark.
The questions include:
- Did they offer you a cash loan?
- Did they not give you paperwork?
- Did they add huge amounts of interest or APR to your loan?
- Have they threatened you?
- Are you scared of people finding out?
- Have they taken your bank card, benefit card, passport, watch or other valuables from you?
Cllr Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Loan sharks prey on people who often find themselves in desperate situations. It can quickly spiral out of control with victims forced to pay back far more than they initially borrowed and are able to afford.
“They may also be subjected to violence, and other threats against themselves and family members. The Council’s Financial Inclusion Policy encourages residents to join Credit Unions, in order to save regularly or enable them to obtain legal, affordable loans, when emergencies arise.
“We’re pleased the England Illegal Money Lending Team has offered to help us get this important message out to so many of our residents.”
The newsletter also offers the first 200 residents in the SN1, SN2, SN3 and SN25 postcodes the chance to receive a £25 bonus, if they open a new Credit Union Account and save for at least three months.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks target some of the most vulnerable people in society and operate in deprived communities. They use fear and intimidation to get their money back, creating more stress for people in difficult situations.
“We will continue to work with our partners to eradicate illegal money lenders in Swindon and promote Swindon Credit Union as a safer alternative for residents to borrow and save money.
“Anyone affected by loan sharks can contact the team in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or find out more at www.stoploansharks.co.uk.”
The Wiltshire and Swindon Credit Union (formerly Wiltshire Savings and Loans) has recently been set up in Swindon.
The Credit Union has collection points at the Library at John Moulton Hall, Penhill on Tuesdays (1pm to 3pm), at Toothill Church on Thursdays (10am-11.30am) and in Highworth Library on Tuesdays (10am-12noon) and Saturdays (10am-11am).
Wiltshire and Swindon Credit Union is also merging with the Steam Ahead Credit Union and will continue to run the office in Cavendish Square (open to the public Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings 10am to 11.55am). Collection points can also be set up in other locations, but will need volunteers to assist. The Credit Union can be contacted on 01722 421881.
The other Credit Union that operates in the Swindon area is the Clivey at Pinetrees Community Centre, which is open on Wednesday mornings between 10am and 12noon and on Saturday mornings between 10.30am and 11.30am.