Christmas loan shark warning for cash-strapped families in Brent
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The poorest families in Brent are being warned about using loan sharks who will prey on them as they struggle to cope with the cost of Christmas.
Once a debtor struggles to pay back the money, which is borrowed at extortionate rates, the illegal money lenders can turn to threats of violence, rape and kidnap.
Brent Council has issued the warning as it teams up with the national Illegal Money Lending Team to provide a service where residents who are indebted to a loan shark can seek help.
A loan shark is a money lender who has not been licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Cllr Roxanne Mashari, Brent Council’s cabinet member responsible for financial inclusion, said: “We all know that Christmas is a time when families can feel that extra pressure to spend what they can’t afford, so offers by loan sharks knocking at your door can seem a tempting way out.
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“Loan sharks target those who struggle to get credit through legitimate sources, first befriending the borrower to get the loan arranged, before later becoming intimidating, threatening or violent.
“The interest rates they charge and the way that they conduct themselves can leave you deeper in debt that expected, so these criminals need to be avoided at all costs.
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“Instead, look at how a credit union can help tie you over into the New Year.”
To report a loan shark, or seek help call, the confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.