News item

Online Loan Shark Survey Launched

The England Illegal Money Lending Team will be encouraging people to think about loan sharks and what they would do if they were a victim as part of an online survey.

The Team will use the survey to see how aware people are of the dangers of loan sharks, and how many people would know if they or someone they knew was being targeted.

The survey encourages people to report the crime if they have been a victim and asks people what their preferred method of communication would be- via phone, text or email.

It provides an opportunity for anyone who believes a loan shark may be operating to leave details and report the crime.

The information will be collated, published and used to improve the ways in which the Team engage with communities. One participant as chosen at random will receive a £20 voucher.

To take part visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/G7RC5WX before Saturday 1st June 2013.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team work in partnership with Trading Standards Authorities across the country to investigate illegal money lending and related criminality, bringing offenders to justice.

They have secured 222 prosecutions leading to more than 150 years worth of custodial sentences, written off £40million worth of illegal debt and helped over 19,000 victims.

The majority of illegal money lenders who the team investigate appear friendly at first but trap borrowers into spiralling debt.

Paperwork is rarely provided and the loan sharks are often unclear on the terms of the loan so borrowers often loose track. Extra amounts and interest payments are added at random.

Some loan sharks will take items as security, including passports and bank cards in order to withdraw from borrowers’ accounts leaving them with little or nothing to get by on.

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “We value the opinion of the public as it helps us to discover more about how loan sharks affect our communities and target our awareness raising accordingly. Illegal money lending is a despicable crime, which leaves people living in misery and fear.

We would urge anyone who knows of a loan shark operating to call us on 0300 555 2222. Our lines are open 24/7 and all calls are treated in confidence”

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
E-mailreportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

***ENDS***

For more information contact Sarah-Jane Lynch, Illegal Money Lending Team communications officer, on 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119. To speak to the National Trading Standards Board with a more general enquiry please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 6089430.

Notes to editors

The National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) represents all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board was established by the Government to improve the enforcement of laws intended to tackle rogue traders operating both regionally and nationally who are causing harm to consumers and legitimate businesses. The NTSB issues grants and funds national and regional initiatives such as Scambusters, the Illegal Money Lending Teams, Safety at Ports and the National Trading Standards eCrime Centre.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 222 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to more than 150 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 19,000 victims.

Funded by the NTSB, the Stop Loan Sharks Project consists of three Illegal money lending teams; England, Scotland and Wales. Hosted by Birmingham City Council and working in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities up and down the country, the England Team consists of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders. The project piloted in 2004, and expanded in 2007.

DATE: 19 April 2013