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Six tips to identify and avoid loan sharks

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) encourages people to join credit unions, in order to save regularly or enable them to obtain legal, affordable loans, when emergencies arise. They have launched a pilot scheme, Stop Loan Sharks, that helps in educating people about loan sharks and support those who have fallen victims of illegal money lending.

Here are six tips to help people spot the signs of illegal money lending and avoid falling victim to loan sharks:

1. Do not borrow loans from people who you speak to you in a public place including pubs, at the school gates or in your workplace.

2. Loan sharks look like ordinary people. However, this is how you can spot them:

  • You won’t get any paperwork like a credit agreement or record of payments
  • They will offer you a loan in cash or bank transfer
  • They may add a huge amount of interest to the loan
  • They will threaten you if you fall behind in your payments
  • You may be forced to hand over your passport, bank card, benefit card or driving licence as security on the loan.

3. You can call the 24-hour confidential hotline (0300 555 2222) for advice, if you or you know someone who has fallen victim of a loan shark. You can also report a loan shark using their confidential online form or by email.

4. You are under no legal obligation to repay the debt so don’t worry!

5. To find out if someone is an authorised lender, you can visit the FCA register online.

6. If you do need to borrow a loan from a reliable and reputable organisation, then look no further than a credit union. A credit union works to benefit their members, helping to provide communities with affordable loans and savings products. At Oxfordshire Credit Union, we provide affordable rates with no hidden costs. What’s more is that we are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority which means that we have a set of rules that we maintain, and which set out how we are managed.

To find out more about the ‘Stop Loan Sharks’ Scheme and the IMLT, you can visit their website.

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