St Helens Council’s Trading Standards team is working with partners to deliver a project intended to educate residents on how to avoid falling prey to illegal money lenders known as loan sharks.
Together with community group Wargrave Big Local; St Helens Citizens Advice and the Illegal Money Lending Team England (National Trading Standards) – trading standards will be present at Newton Community Centre throughout the week of 16 – 20 October to speak with residents and hand out free ‘Save Smart with Smiley’ toolkits which provides useful information on budgeting, saving, responsible borrowing, how to report loan sharks and where to obtain free help.
Money boxes will also be given out to encourage saving, as saving a little and often can go a long way towards household bills, or a luxury item. Residents will be offered an opportunity to make an appointment with Citizens Advice for further advice and information around benefits, budgeting and debt.
On Thursday 19 October, a representative of the National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team England will be speaking to organisations who work in the community about the impact of loan sharks, how to spot the signs of illegal money lending and how to report it. Residents are also invited to take advantage of this service at a session which will take place at 12 noon.
Councillor Terry Shields, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Green Smart and Sustainable Borough, said: “Illegal money lending (loan sharking) is a criminal offence and often sees unlicensed lenders target vulnerable people. The National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders. This initiative will provide residents with information which will help them to avoid falling prey to loan sharks and the misery illegal money lending leads to.”
Trading Standards and Citizens Advice will be at Newton Community Centre, Park Road South, Newton-le-Willows, WA12 8EX on:
Monday 16 October: 13.00pm to 15.00pm and 17.00pm to 20.00pm
Tuesday 17 October: 12.00pm to 16.00pm
Thursday 19 October: 9.30am to 16.00pm and 18.00pm to 20.00pm
Friday 20 October: 9.30am to 12.30pm
On Wednesday 18 October, the team will at various locations in the Wargrave area, including the Trees Estate and Vulcan Village.
Mike Ashworth the Director of St Helens Unlimited said “If you cant get to one of the events in Newton-Le-Willows, the following information will be of help to you in combatting loan sharks and illegal money lending.”
Report a loan shark in complete confidence
A 100% safe online reporting form that you can use to report illegal money lenders to Stop Loan Sharks.
The National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Teams are also available 24/7 on 0300 555 2222 for anonymous information taken in the strictest of confidence.
After you complete the online reporting form a member of their team will contact you at a time to suit you. They will confidentially talk to you about the loan shark. They will also explain what happens next and help you get the financial, housing, or debt support that you might need.
Check to see if your lender is legal
You can search the Financial Conduct Authority database for all legal money lenders in the UK.
Or call The National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 555 2222 and they can tell you if your lender is legal or illegal.