Nottinghamshire victims who have fallen into deep waters with a loan shark during the festive season are being encouraged to report their experience to a national team of investigators.
The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) – a national team that investigates and prosecutes loan sharks – is working with Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards team, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the police to crackdown on illegal money lending.
January is the time of year where loan sharks start to bite and chase victims for the first repayment on a Christmas loan.
Councillor Gordon Wheeler, vice-chairman of communities and place committee at the council, said: “Many people experience the ‘money hangover’ this time of year if they’ve overspent over Christmas, but for loan shark victims it can be a very scary time as the threats and intimidation start if they had a Christmas loan.
“We urge them not to suffer in silence and report their experience to the national team.”
The IMLT runs a 24-hour hotline all year round and is made up of investigators and support officers who meet with victims on a daily basis and build up prosecution files to stop loan sharks in their deceiving tracks.
Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: “We want to reassure victims that they have not broken the law and help and support is available.
“If you or someone you know has been bitten by a loan shark during the festive period, please call us.”
The team will take information anonymously and in confidence and victims do not have to give their name and an officer will go through the options first before taking the report.
A loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct authorisation from the FCA. It is a criminal offence to lend money without authorisation and can lead to a two-year prison sentence and/or £5,000 fine.
Nationally, illegal money lending teams have secured more than 378 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 325 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £71.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped more than 26,500 people.
To report a loan shark call the confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, text a report to 07860 022116, visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org