Residents in the Selby area are being warned about loan sharks after reports of high cost cash loans being offered to those in financial need.
At a time when many families are suffering financial losses and uncertainty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is concern some may feel they have no choice but to turn to such illegal, unregulated and unlicensed money lending sources.
However, North Yorkshire County Council’s Trading Standards Team is urging residents not to do so and instead to report details of loan sharks to them and the Illegal Money Lending Team.
Loan sharks often charge exorbitant interest rates or APRs, put pressure on customers to take additional loans and, in the worst cases, make threats and harass those who have difficulty in paying. In the most extreme cases there have been prosecutions of loan sharks by the Illegal Money Lending Team for blackmail, violence and kidnap offences.
Anyone who is worried about their finances can speak to a number of specialist services who offer money and debt advice. These include:
- The Citizens Advice Line – contactable on 0300 330 9036
- The Citizens Advice Consumer Service – contactable on 0808 223 1133, or at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money
- The Money Advice Service – contactable on 0800 138 7777, or at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
- Step Change Debt Charity – contactable on 0800 138 1111, or at www.stepchange.org.uk
- Community First Credit Union – contactable on 0303 030 0010, or at www.communityfirstcu.co.uk
Other services in the Selby area include:
- Selby and District Food Bank – contactable on 01757 703426, or at www.selbydistrict.foodbank.org.uk
- Selby Advice – www.selbyadvice.org.uk and www.selbyadvice.org.uk/organisation/citizens-advice
- Supporting Victims in North Yorkshire – www.supportingvictims.org
County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Trading Standards said: “That anyone could act in this totally unacceptable way during these unprecedented times is very shocking. For those who are feeling vulnerable and stressed, particularly in relation to their financial situation, the last thing they should do is to get in touch with a loan shark.
“There are a number of excellent local and national services available to those who need advice and assistance. Our trading standards team are also available to help sign post people to the appropriate services and pass intelligence to the Illegal Money Lending Team for them to take the appropriate enforcement action.”
Councillor David Buckle, Selby District Council’s Executive Member for Economic Development, added: “Loan sharks exploit those who are already in financial difficulties and make difficult situations a misery. Loan sharks will often resort to the most extreme methods to enforce repayment. They aren’t licensed to lend money legally so exploit people and have no care for how they do this. If you are approached by someone you suspect is a loan shark report it straight away."
Loan sharks can be reported to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133, or to the Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 555 2222.