OLDHAM COUNCIL is warning residents not to get bitten by a loan shark in the run up to Christmas.
The local authority is working with Greater Manchester Police and the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to encourage people of all ages to celebrate the festive season without turning to an illegal money lender.
A week of action is taking place across the borough from November 3 to 7 to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing money from a loan shark.
Borrowers can become trapped in spiralling debt by loan sharks who often resort to extreme methods such as violence, threats or intimidation to pressure them into paying loans back.
Instead of turning to loan sharks the council is encouraging residents to join Oldham Credit Union (OCU), a community-based business owned and run by local people.
The OCU offers all residents access to fair and straightforward financial services, including secure savings and affordable loans.
You can save by payroll deduction, direct debit, standing order, or make deposits whenever you like at the OCU office at 9 Albion Street, OL1 3BG.
Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said: “We know there are loan sharks operating in Oldham, like there are in all towns and cities across the country.
“These people are simply criminals who prey on vulnerable people and blight our communities. They fleece their victims and often use intimidation and violence.
“At this time of year residents may be tempted to turn to loan sharks but our message is clear – what may seem like a small loan to pay for presents or just to tide you over could end up costing you for years to come.
“The council and our partners will not allow this bullying and criminal behaviour and we are targeting those who think they can get away with it.”
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said “No matter how much you are struggling financially, loan sharks are not the answer.
“They are motivated only by their own greed and are not offering you a service. These criminals should always be avoided at all costs.”
For more information about OCU log onto www.oldhamcreditunion.co.uk or call 0161 678 7245.
If you think a loan shark may be operating in your area call the confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222. You can also text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks