As Christmas approaches residents are being warned to avoid using illegal money lenders and look to other options for short term loans.
Carmarthenshire County Council executive board member for business, public protection and youth services Cllr Pam Palmer and executive board member for corporate property, customer focus and community wellbeing Cllr Kevin Madge said: “The current economic climate is placing pressure on families and making it harder to make ends meet. People who may have lost their jobs, have outstanding debts or are struggling to raise credit through the usual means can become desperate and turn to loan sharks.
“It’s important that we get this message out to residents that loan sharks should be avoided because they will make a difficult financial situation much worse.”
Loan sharks operate illegally and ignore regulations from the financial industry, which means borrowers are not protected. Loan sharks often charge extortionate amounts of interest and have been known to use threatening language, intimidation and even violence when demanding payments from their victims.
If you have borrowed from an illegal money lender, you haven't committed a crime - they have, and when they’re caught, they will be prosecuted by the council and most likely receive a prison sentence if they’re convicted.”
Loan sharks sometimes frighten people by saying they'll be prosecuted and even sent to prison if they don't pay up. This can't happen – an unlicensed lender has no legal right to recover the debt. If you have borrowed money from a loan shark, there's no legal obligation for you to pay them back.
If you suspect a loan shark is operating in your area or you have had a loan which you suspect may be from an unlicensed money lender you can report it in confidence to the
Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 123 3311
Or you’re local
Trading Standards team 01267 234567.
For advice on all money matters include debt and loans contact the
CAB advice line on 0844 477 2020.