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Major crackdown on Norwich loan sharks

PUBLISHED: 15:00 09 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:41 02 July 2010

Tuckswood, shown here from the air, is one of the areas where families will be offered help to avoid loan sharks

Tuckswood, shown here from the air, is one of the areas where families will be offered help to avoid loan sharks

Sarah Hall

A major crackdown on loan sharks has been launched in Norwich - with council bosses pledging to get tough on unlicensed money lenders who prey on vulnerable families.

A major crackdown on loan sharks has been launched in Norwich - with council bosses pledging to get tough on unlicensed money lenders who prey on vulnerable families.

Norwich City Council has joined forces with Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to help beat loan sharks and provide support and advice on alternatives for families at risk from rogue lenders.

A team of around 40 people, made up of council officers and representatives from trading standards, have been visiting homes in Earlham and Tuckswood to speak to families about their experiences, how they can get help if they have fallen victim to a loan shark and leave information on credit unions.

Sophie Leney, assistant head of Norfolk County Council Trading Standards, said: “Loan sharks cause misery and suffering to their victims and their families.

“Their victims are often the most vulnerable people and the impact on their lives can be drastic. The activities of loan sharks can impact on the well being of the wider community.”

Research commissioned by affordable housing provider Circle Anglia estimated that nationally up to 100,000 families borrowed around £29m from loan sharks to pay for last Christmas.

With evidence showing loan sharks charge interest rates averaging a massive 825 per cent, a family taking out a loan of £300 would face a repayment of more than £800.

Information has been provided to people on the three Norwich credit unions - financial co-operatives, owned and controlled by the community and run mostly by volunteers.

Alan Waters, the city council's executive member for corporate resources and governance, said: “Borrowing from loan sharks gets people further into debt.

“We are fully behind the Trading Standards campaign. The city council is helping people with financial problems access the support and help they need.”

The information the team has been gathering will be passed to the Illegal Money Lending team so they can bring illegal doorstep lenders to justice.

If anyone thinks they have been the victim of a loan shark or that there is one operating in their community, they should contact the Trading Standards' Illegal Money Lending team on the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, text 'loan shark' and your message to 60003 or email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk

Have you fallen victim to a loan shark who has then been prosecuted? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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