County Durham Housing Group has committed to a zero-tolerance approach on loan sharks in east Durham.
The group signed up to the Stop Loan Sharks charter in Peterlee on Monday, 28 January.
The charter commits the group to encourage customers to report loan sharks, increase awareness of the risks associated with using illegal money lenders, and help tenants understand legal and affordable alternatives.
The initiative from the England Illegal Money Lending Team is being supported right across County Durham.
County Durham Housing Group has joined forces with the England Illegal Money Lending Team and organisations including Durham County Council, East Durham College and NE First Credit Union to stage a week of action in the Peterlee and Shotton area.
County Durham Housing Group’s Operational Transformation Project Director, Mick Doyle, said: “Loan sharks prey on people who are desperate and cause untold misery in our communities. People need to know that there are much more affordable alternatives where people are not exploited by unscrupulous lenders. In particular, credit unions are community-based and a great way for people to save and borrow.
“I would urge anyone who is aware of loan sharks operating in our communities to report them.”
The charter signing took place as part of a week of action in Peterlee and Shotton to ‘bite back’ at loan sharks.
Hundreds of families were provided with information on avoiding or reporting loan sharks; and local volunteers were trained to help people who have fallen prey to an illegal money lender.
Common signs that a lender could be a loan shark include:
- Being offered a cash loan with no paperwork
- Having huge amounts of interest or annual percentage rate (APR) added to a loan
- Being threatened by a lender
- Having a bank card, benefits card, passport, watch or other valuables taken as ‘payment’.