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New campaign to tackle online loan sharks

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) have launched a new campaign aimed at tackling illegal money lending on the internet and warning of the dangers of online loan sharks.

This campaign comes amid concerns more people are falling prey to lenders online, as statistics show one in five victims met their lender on social media in the first half of 2020. Approximately 30% of the clients at Citizens Advice Peterborough are struggling with debt issues and a proportion of these clients have utilised Loan Sharks, to borrow money in order to pay off these debts.

Loan sharks are increasingly using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to advertise their illegal loans and target victims. They lure people in with seemingly attractive loan offers but quickly resort to intimidation threats and violence to enforce repayment and trap borrowers in a spiral of debt.

IMLT’s campaign titled #SharkFreeSurfing, which will run across Stop Loan Sharks social media platforms from 30th November to 6th of December. It is hoped that the campaign will help encourage not just the victims but the wider community to report illegal money lending activity.

Keith Jones, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice in Peterborough, said:

“Illegal money lending is a growing problem especially in the challenging times we are currently experiencing where people are struggling to meet bills and buy food.  Our aim is to ensure that people are aware that loan sharks are not the answer and will only increase the problems and stress they are facing.”

Some top tips for dealing with Loan Sharks:

  • If you suspect someone may be a loan shark or they are acting inappropriately, you can report them anonymously to https://www.stoploansharks.co.uk or by calling the Stop Loan Sharks Helpline on 0300 555 2222.
  • Alternatively, you can email the team reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or access support via live chat on the website Monday to Friday between 9am- 5pm.
  • The Stop Loan Sharks App is free to download on both iOS and Android devices from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
  • For further advice on issues debt issues, contact the Citizens Advice Peterborough Adviceline: 0808 278 7850 (free phone number).
  • Or access free guides here https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/
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