Trading Standards Scotland is warning consumers not to fall into the trap of using Illegal Money
Lenders on the lead up to Christmas.
The Christmas period is a time where additional financial pressures can be put upon families across
Scotland especially those living in the most deprived areas.
Consumers may feel that borrowing from an illegal money lender or ‘loan shark’ is a viable option for them but in the long term will regret this decision.
Exorbitant extra amounts and interest payments are added at random, and items including passports, bank cards and driving licences are taken as security on the loans.
As the debts often cannot legally be enforced in many cases the loan sharks will resort to threats, violence and other bully tactics.
Illegal Money Lending is a crime which affects an estimated 310,000 households across the UK.
Loans sharks typically befriend their borrowers before forcing them to pay back above and beyond what they have borrowed and can afford.
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams (in Scotland, England & Wales) have secured more than 332 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 212 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off over £63 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 26,000 people.
Fiona Richardson, chief officer, Trading Standards Scotland, said: “At this time of year consumers can be additionally susceptible to falling prey to loan sharks due to the financial pressures of Christmas. Loan Sharks will target people who feel under pressure financially and may not be aware of the services that are there to help them.
“It is crucial that consumers use these services available to them and avoid falling into the trap of using Loan Sharks.
“If anyone has any worries regarding loan sharks or they or someone they know have been approached by a loan shark it is imperative that they report them to Trading Standards Scotland either on 0800 074 0878 or www.tsscot.co.uk. We would encourage anyone who has any financial worries that they look to take advice from one of the many free services available to them, which can be found by using www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.”