An awareness drive which aims to bite back against loan sharks and help vulnerable victims has been launched in Bracknell.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has teamed up with the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) and Berkshire Credit Union.
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 so it’s vital we work with our partners to tackle this crime and promote credit unions as they provide a safe and legal alternative to illegal money lenders.
Anyone affected by loan sharks can contact in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Berkshire Credit Union can offer advice to residents on how to obtain a safe loan and open a savings account.
Manjula Phadnis, Manager at Berkshire Credit Union, said:
“Credit Union membership can be a lifeline for those struggling to get fair finance. We would like to remind the Bracknell community that Credit Union membership is an ethical alternative to high interest lenders and loan sharks, even for those who are worried about their credit ratings.”
For more information on how to become a member of Berkshire Credit Union, call 0118 958 5803 or visit www.cslberks.org.uk
Public Protection Partnership, a shared service which delivers Trading Standards, Environmental Heath and Licensing across Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire and Wokingham Borough Councils. Any resident who cannot attend but has any information or concerns is advised to contact Trading Standards either via the Citizens Advice national consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or at TSAdvice@westberks.gov.uk
Cllr Iain McCracken, Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee, said:
“In Bracknell we support the important work of the England Illegal Money Lending Team. Local trading standards work with the IMLT, police and other agencies to protect local communities from loan sharks. I would encourage anyone being victimised by a loan shark to come forward and seek help.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 329 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £73.7 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.