Trading Standards warn East London firms against loan sharks
SMALL businesses in East London are being targeted by loan sharks, Trading Standards officers are warning. Nearly one-in-three businesses taking out loans to keep their trade afloat have become victims of illegal money lending, they have found
SMALL businesses in East London are being targeted by loan sharks, Trading Standards officers are warning.
Nearly one-in-three businesses taking out loans to keep their trade afloat have become victims of illegal money lending.
Sometimes family homes are being repossessed over comparatively small loans on average less than �7,000, the London Trading Standards’ Illegal Money Lending team has found.
Small business are key targets’ for loan sharks often with a knock-on effect on the trader’s house mortgage and other family commitments, warns the team.
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“Loan sharks force victims to hand over home deeds or sign over business interests to cover missed payments,” explained team manager Peter Richardson. “We urge small business to steer clear of loan sharks and seek help elsewhere.”
A London-wide Stop Loan Sharks’ operation has been launched this week to track down and prosecute illegal money lenders, backed by Downing Street.
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It is part of a national programme which has helped 11,500 victims so far, written off �31 million illegal debts and secured 57 years in prison sentences for illegal money lending.
Government Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan branded the loan sharks criminals.’
He said: “These people ask for more and more to cover loan interest on any missed payments.
“Things can seem difficult when bills are mounting and customers aren’t coming through the door. But turning to a loan shark isn’t the answer.”
Confidential advice and support
is being given online by the London team or on its 24-hour hotline on 030-0555 2222, or 020-7364 6886.
The London Illegal Money Lending team was launched in Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney and Newham by the London Trading Standards Authorities, the umbrella body which co-ordinates operations to track down and prosecute illegal money lenders.
A London-wide scheme called Capitalise
is also being run at Whitechapel’s Toynbee Hall, with 59 advisors helping loan shark victims deal with debts to legitimate creditors.