PEOPLE are being warned about the dangers of borrowing money from loan sharks.
A team of experts are working closely with Durham County Council’s trading standards and licensing teams as they clamp down on an initiative to rid the streets of illegal lenders in the run-up to Christmas.
The England Illegal Money Lending team also has the backing of pub landlords as they work with the county’s Pubwatch initiative.
Landlords are distributing beer mats which warn the public about becoming a victim of illegal loan sharks.
The team’s contact details are on beer mats which give people the opportunity to report criminals.
The beer mats are one way of raising awareness and victims are being urged to seek help.
Councillor Bob Young, cabinet member for strategic environment and leisure, said: “People who borrow money from loan sharks feel they have nowhere to turn for help but through partnership working we can combat illegal money lending and raise awareness of the pitfalls of borrowing in this way.”
Tony Quigley, head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Illegal money lenders are a scourge on our communities.
“These criminals are motivated by greed and have been known for the worst kinds of bully tactics to force people to pay back over the odds.”
Anyone who is the victim of an illegal lender is urged to call the team on 0300 555 2222.
Calls are answered by trained investigators 24 hours, seven days a week.