With people facing higher bills for household fuel, food, petrol at the pumps and new, higher National Insurance payments from the start of April, Sefton Council is warning people not to turn to loan sharks.
Unscrupulous and unlicensed
Recently there have been a number of press reports of desperate households facing the effects of cost-of-living rises being trapped by unscrupulous and unlicensed lenders providing loans with interest rates at astronomical levels.
Today, loan sharks often use social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, to advertise their illegal loans and target potential victims. Initially their offers can seem an attractive short-term fix. However, seemingly attractive loans can quickly end in intimidation, threats and violence to enforce repayment and borrowers trapped in a spiral of debt.
Simon Burnett, Sefton Council’s Head of Communities said: “At times like this we tend to see an upsurge in the activities of loan sharks preying on vulnerable families facing hard decisions over their finances.
“They make it sound like they want to help but they do not have their victims’ best interests at heart. In fact, they are actively looking to trap struggling families into sky-rocketing debts backed up with threats, intimidation and violence as they demand payment.
“Sefton Council can help people who are in financial difficulty and the sooner they contact us the greater the chance that we can work with them to find workable solutions.”
The Sefton Support Hub at www.sefton.gov.uk/seftonsupporthub is a digital One Stop Shop where the Borough’s residents can find help, advice and guidance, as well as financial and social support.
Recently the Government announced it will be extending the Household Support Fund. People can access this through Sefton’s Emergency Limited Assistance Scheme (ELAS), the Affordable Warmth service and through vouchers. The Council also allocates funding to schools to support pupils receiving free school meals.
Information about the one-off Council Tax Energy Rebate, Affordable Warmth and help with fuel bills, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction and the Council’s Exceptional Hardship Fund can also be found at www.sefton.gov.uk/energy-rebate.
Sefton residents who don’t have Internet access can contact the Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).
The Council’s Invest Sefton, Homeless Prevention and Early Help services can also provide support. And advice about benefits is at www.sefton.gov.uk/welfare-rights-team
Recently loan sharks have been targeting people through local, online selling and community sites and groups as well as on social media. Often, they advertise loans requiring with no credit checks. They have also been known to ask for people’s details including copies of their passport or pictures of their house, street and house number.
Anyone who thinks they have been targeted by a loan shark can report it in confidence to an Illegal Money Lending Team by calling 0300 555 2222, texting
LOAN SHARK and the details to 60003 or by emailing email@example.com
Updates can be found at @loansharknews and www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
There is also a Stop Loan Sharks page on the online Sefton Directory at https://www.seftondirectory.com/kb5/sefton/directory/service.page?id=fIqdscvjDU4
Sefton Residents can also get in touch via Sefton Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).