Don’t get sharked this Christmas
As Christmas approaches and money is tight more people will be tempted by loan sharks, but these criminals should always be avoided. Loan sharks will exploit families at this time of year, as they know they will be struggling for cash.
These lenders act like your best friend, they seem to be doing you a favour, and it may seem hard to resist the cash up front, but steer clear of them at all costs. What may seem like a small loan to tide you over for Christmas could end up costing you dearly for years and years -and not just financially. It could end up having a horrific impact and your life and the lives of those around. You could be subjected to threats, violence and worse.
The England Illegal Money Lending are cracking down on these criminals and bringing them to justice. Look out for offenders and don’t accept loans from them- report them in confidence. Typically loan sharks will:
- Appear friendly at first, enticing their borrowers to take out a loan but this is often a façade and very quickly the debt begins to spiral, extra charges are added sporadically
- Force their borrowers hand over items ‘as security’. This could include passports, driving licences or even bank cards with the PIN, in order to withdraw directly from borrower’s accounts. This is how people are left with little or nothing to get by on.
- Offer little or no paperwork, and are unclear of the terms of the loan. People are then left in the dark as to how much they are actually repaying.
As the debts can’t legally be enforced, the lenders will resort to the most extreme methods to enforce repayment- tactics used to intimidate lenders have included cutting TV and phone wires then sitting waiting outside the borrowers home and collecting victims children from school without their knowledge.
The Team have seen loan sharks threaten to burn down the homes of victims and throw acid in their faces. A victim was even kidnapped and attacked with a machete and a baseball bat and one woman was raped by a loan shark. Don’t put yourself or your family at risk.
Anne* took out a loan for £150 to buy her young children Christmas presents, but paid back more than £5000, as the loan shark continued to harass her for five years. When she fell ill and was unable to work she defaulted on payments. She was resting at home with her young daughter when the loan shark accompanied by two other men barged in, demanding to know why she hadn’t paid and pulling items out of her living room.
She told us how frightened she was “There was nowhere to go. I wasn’t even safe in my own house. I was screaming, crying, pleading with him not take my stuff. To think, that my little girl had to see that.”
Think about setting up a savings account, to put a little aside for Christmas. If you do need to borrow, try to only borrow what you need but make sure it’s from a reputable lender.
We’d recommend credit unions as a safe and legal alternative, find you nearest one: www.abcul.org
Remember loan sharks do not have a license from the Office of Fair Trading to lend money legally. Check that a lender is licensed before considering a loan; you can do so using the consumer credit register online. http://www2.crw.gov.uk/pr/Default.aspx
Remember no matter how desperate you are loan sharks are never the answer. You can report these criminals in the strictest confidence and action will be taken.
We’ve already helped over 22,000 victims, secured nearly 300 prosecutions with custodial sentences in excess of 170 years and cleared illegal debts to the tune of £40.3 million.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
Here is some other useful information for residents who may get caught up with loan sharks with the pressure of the Christmas period coming up.
Follow the team on twitter – www.twitter.com/loansharknews
Follow the team on Facebook – www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
Message the team direct on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
What do the darker nights mean to you?
ADT went out onto the streets of Leeds to ask people what they thought of the clocks going back and the darker nights. Please have a read of the following helpful information and watch the video on the link at the bottom.
Every year the clocks go back at the end of October and as a result the nights get darker, but do we take any extra home security measures during this time?
Opportunistic thieves prefer to operate when they can be hidden by the darkness, so most burglaries occur at night. This being said it’s not very surprising that the number of burglaries increases as the nights become longer during the autumn and winter months.
According to Halifax Homes Insurance claims data, the cost of a claim for a winter burglary increased by 14% compared to a summer burglary in 2012, where the winter burglary claim ended up costing £1,746 per incident.
Your home is where you feel most secure, yet only one in five of us take any extra home security measures during the darker nights.
Crime increases when the clocks go back, so why not try to prevent this. If you check all your doors and windows are locked, and make your home look occupied when it’s not, you can help to reduce the number of burglaries that occur – particularly the stark rise of 26% that occur between Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Here are ADT’s top 5 tips to make your home more secure during the darker nights:
Burglars are less likely to target a home that looks occupied. Use a times to switch lights on when you’re away.
- Close your curtains and blinds so burglars can’t see your valuables through your windows.
- Lock your sheds and outbuildings – and an outside light can blow the cover of darkness for a would-be thief.
- Install a burglar alarm – the box on the front of your house will act as a visible deterrent, but you should also set the alarm for when you’re away, sleeping upstairs or even out in your back garden on Bonfire Night.
- Carry out a general security check. It takes no more than two minutes to lock your windows and doors.