Special team hunting loan sharks

PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 May 2012


LOAN sharks and illegal money lenders in North Somerset will soon be brought to justice by a special national team.

Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards department will be investigating lenders acting illegally across the area, including loan sharks and unlicensed traders, as well as legitimate businesses breaking the law.

North Somerset Council has granted the department delegated powers to investigate illegal lenders.

The team is one of two operating within the country as part of a pilot project to investigate lender wrongdoing and has already written off more than £40million of illegal debts, secured more than 180 prosecutions and helped 16,000 loan shark victims nationwide.

Loan sharks often take advantage of people with bad credit histories, charging huge interest rates.

A council report said: “Extortionate interest rates mean borrowers face demands for payment of thousands of pounds more than they borrowed and can often never pay off the loans.

“Borrowers who fail or refuse to pay are often subject to intimidation, blackmail and physical violence.”

The cost of the scheme will be funded by the Government, with the Birmingham team to be granted permission to tackle the lender problems in North Somerset until at least March 31, 2015.

The report continued: “Illegal money lenders have a serious detrimental effect on both individuals and the community.

“This can mean that their activities have disproportionate implications for the more deprived areas and action taken against them therefore supports and protects the most vulnerable members of the community.”

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