The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is funding features and advertising that will appear in South Worcester Voice over the coming year.
The monthly newspaper was awarded a grant to publish advice to alert residents throughout its distribution area about people who lend money without the correct authorisation, often charging extortionate interest and adding indiscriminate charges.
South Worcester Voice was awarded the grant from the Stop Loan Sharks Community Fund, which comes from cash seized from loan sharks.
To qualify for a grant, projects had to be able to demonstrate they could raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks, reduce crime and disorder and have a positive impact on communities.
South Worcester Voice Editor, Christine McMillan, said the penetration of the newspaper, delivered free through the doors of more than 6,000 properties throughout south Worcester and neighbouring villages, secured the grant.
“We distribute our paper across a unique area, much of which does not receive any other printed news publication,” she explained.
“This means we can deliver the warning about loan sharks directly to an audience that otherwise might fall prey to the fraudsters. Older people, who could be particularly susceptible to loan sharks, often rely on South Worcester Voice for their local news and information and so it is the ideal means of delivering messages warning them to beware.
“The paper’s reputation as a trusted and respected publication will help to drive home that message across its whole community.”
Residents are being urged to be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs when dealing with loan sharks:
- They refuse to provide you with proper paperwork about your loan – you’re never sure what you owe, or the interest being charged.
- They refuse to give you information, such as the time left on the loan, or what you’ve repaid so far.
- They keep adding unfair amounts of interest to the amount you owe so it never goes down.
- If you miss payments, they’ll use scare tactics such as intimidation and threats to pressure you into paying them.
- They may take your things if you don’t pay what they want on time.
- They may withhold your possessions such as your bank card or passport until the debt is repaid.
- They may pretend to be your friend at first but threaten to tell others about the debt if you fail to pay back money on time.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We’re pleased to have teamed with South Worcester Voice to highlight the dangers of loan sharks and ensure residents are aware that there’s a legal, ethical and affordable alternative to illegal lending.
“We urge anyone who isn’t able to access mainstream credit from the high street to think twice about their next move and consider using a credit union before a loan shark.
“We have helped over 30,000 escape the clutches of illegal lenders and prosecuted over 400 loan sharks. If you have been a victim or witness to this crime, please get in touch so we can support you.”
You are not in trouble if you have borrowed cash or have been paying back a loan from an illegal money lender, the loan shark is. They are the people committing a crime, not you. Anyone with concerns about loan sharks can access specialist support on the Stop Loan Sharks 24-Hour Helpline 0300 555 2222 or Live Chat at www.stoploansharks.co.uk.
You can find details for your local credit union at www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk
To contact South Worcester Voice email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07719 106672.