PEOPLE are being urged to be on their guard against loan sharks over the festive period.
Hartlepool Borough Council is joining forces with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to crackdown this Christmas on illegal money lenders.
Through enforcement action, raising awareness and education they aim to encourage people to celebrate the season without turning to an illegal money lender.
They say what may seem like a small loan to tide people over for Christmas could end up costing them well into the New Year and beyond.
Ian Harrison, principal trading standards & licensing officer with the council, said: “Loan sharks prey on some of the most vulnerable members of society.
“With Christmas approaching residents must be on their guard and resist any temptation to borrow money from illegal lenders.
“There is lots of advice and help available in the town to help people manage their finances including the town’s own credit union, and our message to loan sharks is that you will not be tolerated in Hartlepool.”
To highlight the impact the England Illegal Money Lending Team have released a video compilation of real life victim’s stories, in which those who have suffered at the hands of loan sharks explain in their own words how horrendous their experiences were. Log onto to view the footage.
If you have been the victim of a loan shark, call 0300 5552222 to speak in confidence.