Fight back against the loan sharks in Hertfordshire
Loan sharks preying on vulnerable people in Hertfordshire are being warned to think again – or face a specialist team that will bite back. The East of England Trading Standards illegal money lending team has launched the Stop Loan Sharks project in partn
Loan sharks preying on vulnerable people in Hertfordshire are being warned to think again - or face a specialist team that will bite back.
The East of England Trading Standards illegal money lending team has launched the Stop Loan Sharks project in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council.
Running a money lending business without the appropriate licence is a crime. Loan sharks target some of the most vulnerable people in society, charging extortionate interest rates and often using violence and intimidation to get what they want.
The highest interest rate the team has come across is 117,000 per cent APR.
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The team will investigate and prosecute loan sharks across the county, not only for illegal money lending but for related criminal offences. They have prosecuted loan sharks for offences such as assault, blackmail, kidnap, rape, financial crimes and counterfeit goods offences.
Letchworth county councillor Keith Emsall, who is executive member for community safety, said: "The despicable practices of loan sharks will not be tolerated. We are clamping down on the unscrupulous activity of illegal money lending; loan sharks charge extortionate interest rates, do not provide repayment plans and subject borrowers to intimidation and violence for failing to pay.
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"Not only will we pursue the culprits until they are brought to justice, we will provide the victims with protection and support, so please do not be afraid to get in touch if you are suffering at the hands of a loan shark."
The team is asking people to join them in saying 'No' to loan sharks.
They will be asking volunteers and people in specialist services such as housing associations who may come into contact with victims, and victims themselves, to stop and think:
* Have you, or anyone you know, been offered a cash loan?
* Have you been threatened when you couldn't pay?
* Has your benefit card been taken from you?
* Does what you owe keep growing even though you are making payments?
* Do you know the total amount owed, the APR or how to cancel?
Nationally the Stop Loan Sharks project has helped more than 10,000 victims, written off more than �30million of illegal debt and secured more than 50 years in prison sentences for illegal money lending and criminal offences.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, text "loan shark" plus your message to 60003, email firstname.lastname@example.org or logon to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks