MID Devon Housing (MDH) has been recognised for its work raising awareness of the dangers of using loan sharks, with a national award from The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT).
The IMLT, which investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders while supporting those who have borrowed money from a loan shark, has awarded MDH Partner Recognition accreditation for their initiatives in raising awareness of illegal money lenders and making communities safer.
MDH has carried out regular communications and campaigns with the Neighbourhood Policing Team to raise awareness of loan sharks and how to report them, as well as taking part in IMLT led training sessions with the police.
This has helped the team to recognise when a tenant may have fallen victim to an illegal money lender, how to report and how to support our tenants.
A report published by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) estimated that there could be up to 1.08 million people in debt to loan sharks in England, with some lenders using criminal tactics to demand repayment from borrowers.
Warning signs which indicate that you could be dealing with a loan shark:
• Being given no paperwork upon the agreement of a loan
• A refusal from the lender to give detailed information about a loan
• Taking items such as a bank card or passport until the debt is paid
• Taking things from you if you do not pay on time.
Simon Newcombe, Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing said: “Loan sharks cause untold suffering for victims, many of whom are vulnerable and struggling with the current cost of living pressures.
"There are always better options for those who need financial help and we can provide support. Any tenant who has borrowed money from a loan shark can be reassured that we will support them.
"We know that coming forward may feel very daunting if you are a victim, but you can be reassured that our Neighbourhood teams understand the issues and will help you to stay safe.”
Tony Quigley, Head of England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We would like to congratulate MDH on their partner recognition award and thank them for their outstanding efforts tackling loan sharks.
“Loan sharks are criminals that prey on the most vulnerable people in our communities. They trap their victims into spiralling debt and will often use intimidation and violence.
“We will not tolerate illegal money lending and would urge anyone with information about this crime to report it as soon as possible.”
If you or someone you know is involved with a loan shark, call the Stop Loan Sharks 24-Hour Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at: www.stoploansharks.co.uk .
Live chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.