Money that has been confiscated from convicted loan sharks will be used to back new credit union accounts in Lancashire, thanks to a new partnership with CLEVR Money Credit Union.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has joined forces with CLEVR Money to use proceeds of crime money as an incentive to encourage people to save, and to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.
The first 50 people to join the credit union before the end of November, and who make three monthly payments into their account, will qualify for a savings boost of £25.
The promotion scheme is open to anyone who lives or works in the post codes areas of FY1-FY8, PR1-PR5, LA1 – LA2.
Anthony Brookes of CLEVR Money, said: “We provide savings and loans services to more than 4700 members, and sadly we’ve heard stories of people who have fallen into the clutches of loan sharks.
“Many loan sharks will resort to bullying tactics, such as intimidation, threats and even violence to enforce repayment, and often won’t set an interest figure or have any form of paperwork.
“As a community-focused ethical organisation, we exist to provide a responsible alternative to high-interest loans with no hidden fees or agendas.
“We want to make loan sharks history in our county, so we’re delighted to offer this incentive to show people there is a better, safer and more affordable way to manage their money.
“We prioritise people over profit, working directly with them to help sort out debts and put them on a track to better financial health.”
Loan sharks are unregulated, often give cash loans without any paperwork and charge extortionate interest rates. They may offer what appears to be a quick-fix small loan but in the long term, any money borrowed will come at a very high price and may lead to violence, threats and intimidation.
Tony Quigley, Head of the IMLT said: “Loan sharks operate across all communities. These unscrupulous individuals target the vulnerable and make money persecuting those who can least afford it.
“As a society we need to protect those at risk and ensure illegal money lending is a thing of the past. Credit unions are a huge part of the solution and by offering affordable, responsible loans, they give people who need a little extra help from time to time, a safe and reliable option.”
Anyone affected by loan sharks can contact the England Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.