Loan Shark cash to boost new Credit Union savers

A new incentive has been launched in Leeds to encourage residents to start saving and make them aware of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) are working in partnership with Leeds Credit Union to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders, more commonly known as loan sharks.

A joint initiative will see the team use proceeds of crime money, confiscated from convicted loan sharks, to sponsor new credit union accounts.

The first fifty Housing Leeds tenants to join Leeds Credit Union and save regularly between now and November, will be awarded with a £25 savings boost straight into their account before Christmas.

This new incentive will lead to Leeds residents being more financially resilient when Christmas comes around and will encourage members to get into the habit of saving regularly.

Tony Quigley, Head of Service for the National Illegal Money Lending Team said:

“Illegal money lenders can have a horrific impact on our communities, and should never be used under any circumstances.

“We’d always urge residents to look at borrowing from safe and legal alternatives, such as their local credit union. Loan sharks may appear friendly at first and act as though they’re offering a community service, but don’t be fooled by this behaviour as it soon changes once monies are owed.

“If you or someone you know has been a victim of a loan shark, the team are here to help on 0300 555 2222. You call will be handled by a trained IMLT officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt. Many loan sharks will resort to bullying tactics, such as intimidation, threats and even violence to enforce repayment.

Chris Smyth CEO Leeds Credit Union said:

“Leeds Credit Union are delighted to take part in this scheme to support savings for Christmas and all year round. Working closely with the residents of  Housing Leeds on a daily basis by offering all our products and services including the Bill Paying Account to help with budgeting for priority bill and saving schemes. Our low cost loans are available as an ethical alternative to illegal money lenders and high cost loans.”

For more information on how to become a member of Leeds City Credit Union, please call the team on (0113) 242 3343 or email to find your nearest branch.

People are urged never to use loan sharks who may refuse to tell the borrower how much they owe or how long they will be repaying for or the APR rate. Often they do not give paperwork and loans will just keep growing even if the borrower is making regular payments. These criminals may appear friendly at first, but resort to violent, threatening and extreme methods when payments are not met.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 370 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 318 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £71.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 26,500 people.

To report a loan shark: