Image demonstrating Don’t get bitten by a loan shark this Christmas

Don’t get bitten by a loan shark this Christmas

As the Christmas shopping season gets into full swing, Northumberland County Council is working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to warn residents about the perils of  borrowing from unscrupulous lenders or loan sharks.

Loan sharks take advantage of vulnerable people in desperate situations, by lending them money at extremely high interest rates, trapping them into a cycle of debt and misery.

This time of year is especially profitable for them as they prey on people trying to cope with the pressures of Christmas.

It is easy to fall into the grip of a loan shark as they are often very friendly at first.  They rarely set their terms out on paper, keeping their borrowers in the dark but they are known to charge extortionate interest rates of up to 3,000 per cent interest.

Borrowers then become trapped into spiralling debt by the sharks who often resort to the most extreme methods such as violence, threats or intimidation to pressure them into paying the loan back.

Now a national publicity campaign, run by The England Illegal Money Lending Team and backed by local authorities,  is clamping down on illegal money lenders by raising awareness of their unscrupulous tactics.

Northumberland County Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member for housing and public protection said:
“ Christmas is a very expensive time of year; the pressure to spend is immense and with it the temptation to incur debt people can ill-afford.
“ If you find yourself struggling financially, borrowing money from a loan shark is never the answer.  The consequences can be dreadful and I urge people not to be tempted by what may appear to be the easy option of an unlicensed lender. If you do need to borrow, it's important to fully understand the true cost of borrowing and borrow from a responsible, ethical source such as the Northumberland Community Bank.”

The Northumberland Community Bank provides structured and affordable repayment plans to help local people to manage their money wisely.  For further information visit:

To lend money lawfully you have to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)..  You can search the FCA Financial Services register to check if the lender is legal at

If you have been bitten by a loan shark, please report it immediately to The Illegal Money Lending Team (Tel: 0300 555 2222) who will investigate and prosecute loan sharks and support people affected by this crime. Their lines are open around the clock during the festive season.
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