WITH people facing higher bills for household fuel, food, petrol and more during the cost of living crisis, Sefton Council is urging people to resist the temptation to turn to loan sharks.
There have been a number of reports in the national press of desperate households being trapped by unscrupulous and unlicensed lenders providing loans with interest rates at “astronomical levels.”
Loan sharks often use social media platforms to advertise their illegal loans and target potential victims.
However, seemingly attractive loans can quickly end in intimidation, threats and violence to enforce repayment and borrowers trapped in a spiral of debt.
Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said: “People across our borough are being faced with soaring costs and so far are seeing no signs of any solutions being offered nationally.
"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 residents can find help, advice and guidance, as well as financial and social support.
The Government recently 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.
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
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