Along with others from Quaker Social Action, the Down to Earth team attended a fascinating training session with the England Illegal Money Lending Team, highlighting the prevalence of loan sharks – illegal money lenders.
Illegal Money Lenders target people at vulnerable times, including bereavement.
They often offer cash loans with no documents, and the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has seen interest rates of over 100,000%. The IMLT recognises funeral costs as one of the primary reasons for borrowing money from illegal money lenders and is keen to engage with funeral directors and bereavement professionals.
The key signs of someone borrowing from an illegal money lender and the typical characteristics of a loan shark are:
- Borrowers will often say they have borrowed money from a 'friend'
- No credit agreements given
- No receipts and no payment books exist to record payments made
- Most payments are cash and weekly
- Threats or actions of violence and intimidation
- May suggest payments in kind to themselves or others
- Lenders often work alone or in a tight group of collectors
The England Illegal Money Lending Team is the government body behind Stop Loan Sharks.
Since its conception in 2004, the team have supported over 30,000 people and written off over £83 million worth of illegal debt.
You can find complete information about the IMLT's work, updates about prosecutions, and details on how to arrange training for your team on their website at stoploansharks.co.uk