Residents urged to be vigilant of loan sharks this Christmas

Westmorland and Furness Trading Standards are working with the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to combat the growth in illegal lending and are warning people to be vigilant and avoid being targeted by scams due to the financial pressures associated with Christmas.

They’re launching a new social media campaign #ShopSmartNotShark to alert people about the dangers of using loan sharks in the run up to Christmas.

Statistics show that in the first half of 2023, 56% of the people supported by the IMLT said they thought they were borrowing from a friend.

IMLT and Westmorland and Furness Trading Standards have provided some warning signs to look out for, including:

  • Being given no paperwork or details about the loan
  • The lender demanding repayments that add up to much more than you initially borrowed
  • Being intimidated or threatened by the lender if you struggle to pay
  • The lender demanding you hand over items like bank cards or a passport until you can pay.

Cllr Neil Hughes, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environmental Services, said: “With many families facing extra financial pressures and the rising cost of living, it is even more important that we continue to take a stand against loan sharks.

“If you do need to access affordable credit, I would urge you to contact your nearest credit union, which offers an alternative, ethical and safe way of borrowing for people who may have been refused credit elsewhere. Visit to find one nearest to you.

“The council offer advice and support for those struggling with financial pressure and there is a dedicated page on the council website.”

For those wishing to speak to someone confidentially for advice on loan sharks and illegal lending, they can contact IMLT:

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