Organisations across the borough of Rochdale have been gaining the skills they need to fight loans sharks and the problems they can cause in communities.
Rochdale Borough Council hosted a special training session, in partnership with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to help organisations in the borough understand how to support people in the community, who may be victims of illegal money lending.
Representatives for the council, Greater Manchester Police (GMP), local housing providers and community organisations to name a few attended the course, held at Rochdale Town Hall which gave them the skills to identify loan sharks and their victims, taught them how to report illegal money lending and advised them how to support victims through the process.
'Borrowing from loan sharks can have serious consequences for victims'
Loan sharks are people who lend money as a business without having the correct permissions from the Financial Conduct Authority. They often target low income or desperate families, charging high interest rates and can resort to intimidation or violence if people fall behind on repayments.
Debts owed to loan sharks are not enforceable because they are illegal and support is available to help victims report the crime.
Councillor Jacqueline Beswick, the council's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "Borrowing from loan sharks can have serious consequences for victims from a seemingly never ending spiral of debt to isolation, stress and fear; which we will not tolerate. Our advice is to never borrow from loan sharks, even if you feel you have no other options or they seem friendly at first, it's never a good idea.
"Other reputable lenders, credit unions and debt advisers are available so you don't need to feel helpless. But should you ever become a victim of a loan shark, help is available, so don't feel scared or alone, report it to help yourself and us stop loan sharks for good."
'Help us stop loan sharks for good'
Residents are being advised to watch out for warning signs of loan sharks and report them if they are approached by one. A loan shark may:
- Give little or no paperwork.
- Avoid telling the interest rate or how much is still owed.
- Add random charges or keep increasing the amount.
- Take items as security, such as passports, bank cards or driving licences.
- Refuse to allow you to settle your debt.
- Resort to intimidation, threats or violence.
Advice about money, debt and benefits for residents with money worries can be found on the council's website.
Confidential help and further information for victims of loan sharks is available from the Illegal Money Lending Team, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the hotline number 0300 555 2222 or at Shop Loan Sharks.