30th November 2022
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Fears over debt as more people could turn to loan sharks to cover Christmas
• Nearly one in ten people turned to loan sharks to cover the costs of Christmas last year.
• More than half of victims turned to illegal money lenders in order to pay for essentials such as utilities, food and fuel in the first half of 2022.
• New campaign #SleighNoToLoanSharks aims to protect communities from the devastating effects of illegal money lending in the run up to Christmas.
Experts have warned that unscrupulous lenders could try to cash in on the festive period as households struggle to cope with rising food, fuel and energy bills.
Loan sharks are targeting vulnerable people seeking credit and trapping them into a cycle of debt with exorbitant interest rates and threats of violence.
A report published by the Centre for Social Justice estimated that 1.08 million people could already be in debt to an illegal money lender. This is over 700,000 more people than the most recent official estimate.
Figures released by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) show that nearly one in ten of those who borrowed money from loan sharks last year did so to cover the costs of Christmas.
More than half of victims (52%) supported by the IMLT in the first half of 2022 had borrowed from a loan shark to pay for essentials such as food and fuel.
Loan sharks pose a dangerous threat to all communities. They charge exorbitant interest rates and target the most vulnerable with aggressive and exploitative practices. The impact of illegal money lending is severe and far-reaching, with devastating consequences for the mental health and wellbeing of those affected.