As Christmas fast approaches and money is tight, Dudley borough residents are being warned not to be bitten by loan sharks.
At this time of year people are often tempted by loan sharks as they struggle for cash to cover the expense of the season.
This makes it easier for lenders to exploit people with a small loan to tide them over Christmas, but it ends up costing borrowers much more financially and having a huge impact on their lives.
Loan sharks will act like friends and make the offer seem hard to resist, but very quickly the situation can spiral out of control and borrowers can be subjected to threats, violence and intimidation.
Councillor Gaye Partridge, cabinet member responsible for community safety, said:
Loan sharks will often resort to the most extreme methods to enforce repayment.
They aren’t licensed to lend money legally so exploit people and have no care for how they do this.
If you suspect there is one operating in your area please report it.”
Credit unions are recommended as a safe, alternative lending and saving facility. To find out about Castle & Crystal Credit Union in Dudley call 01384 815771 or visit www.castleandcrystal.co.uk
Loan sharks can be reported confidentially by calling Illegal Money Lending England on 0300 555 2222 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, 24 hours a day, seven days a week or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more visit www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks