Help for loan shark victims in Ottery

A CAMPAIGN to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks is coming to Ottery this week.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team, Devon County Council Trading Standards and other partners on the week-long initiative.

They aim to encourage people to turn away from loan sharks and to report any crime if they have been a victim.

A drop-in session will be held for people to seek advice from 9am to 11am at Sainsbury’s on Thursday (December 13).

Plough and Share Credit Union will be on hand providing a safe and legal alternative to loan sharks.

An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark, and with the festive season under way there are fears more people will be targeted- 20 per cent of victims in past cases took out a loan to pay for Christmas.

Loan sharks usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt.

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As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment including threats, violence and intimidation.

Paperwork is rarely offered so victims are often in the dark as to how much they are actually paying. Exorbitant extra amounts and interest are added at random- the highest interest seen by an illegal lender was equivalent to 131,000 per cent APR.

Councillor Steph Jones, EDDC’s deputy cabinet member for sustainable homes and communities, said: “By turning to these people for loans, unfortunately, what should be a happy time can quickly turn into a dreadful one. No matter how much you are struggling, loan sharks are not the answer.”

To report a loan shark call the confidential Illegal Money Lending Team hotline on 0300 5552222 or e-mail .