Third year law students at University of Portsmouth recently had a talk from the Lin Fisher of the National Illegal Money Lending Team about loan sharks. Although it probably sounds more like something out of a TV drama and you wouldn’t imagine that it was happening here in Portsmouth, we were suprised to find out it does! In November two loan sharks were jailed for 2 years and 9 months by a judge at Portsmouth Crown Court. They operated around Portsmouth and Havant and ran an illegal loans book worth £769,681, over a period of more than two years.
What is a loan shark?
A loan shark is someone who illegally lends money without permission from the Financial Conduct Authority. Loan sharks typically operate in a way that combines intimidation or violence with extremely high interest rates which results in it being impossible to get out of their clutches. Male or female, young or old, they tend to initially be friendly and then show their true colours once you owe them money. Some loan sharks have tried to charge interest rates of 719,000%.
How to spot a loan shark
• They tend not to give any paperwork such as a credit arrangement or repayments.
• They can turn extremely violent, threatening or intimidating if payments are missed.
• They can take items such as passports, driving licences and bank cards as security.
• Refuse to give information such as interest rates or how much you have left to pay or they may increase amounts without your permission.
• You pay far more in interest than you would through any legal borrowing. One woman who borrowed £500 ended up repaying £88,000
As part of the talk, Lin informed us that approximately 310,000 households throughout the UK are currently involved with loan sharks and are using illegal money lending. This equates to 12% in deprived areas including Portsmouth.
Whilst it may seem that there is no escape if you are involved with a loan shark, the Illegal Money Lending Team are always able to help. They have written off £63.5 million of illegal debt nationwide and have secured nearly 350 convictions. They are open to speak to 24/7 on 0300 555 2222 or you can send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel that you are involved with a loan shark or suspect someone of illegal money lending activities.
If you would like any further advice, please do not hesitate to drop by our Legal Advice Clinic at the Somerstown Community Centre every Monday (10am – 1pm), or The John Pounds Centre every Wednesday (1pm – 4pm). Our email address is email@example.com.
You can also follow us on Twitter: @UOP_Advice and Facebook: UOP Legal Advice clinic
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