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Watch out for loan sharks this Christmas

If you are having money troubles this Christmas then don’t be tempted to borrow cash from loan sharks.

Loan sharks are illegal money lenders who often target families on low income. They may seem friendly to start with, but borrowing money from them is never a good idea even if your credit rating is poor or you only need a small amount of money for a short while.

You will pay far more interest than you would through legal borrowing. Some loan sharks resort to intimidation and violence after they have lent you money, and you are often pressured into borrowing more money to repay one debt with another.

West Lancashire Borough Council offers a free, independent and confidential Money Advice Service to Council tenants. Advisers can help you with debt problems, and offer advice on how to manage bills, claim benefits, and negotiate debt payment programmes. They can also advise you on alternatives to loan sharks such as Credit Unions, and Knowsley Mutual Credit Union www.knowsleymutualcu.co.uk is one that operates in West Lancashire.

For more details please visit www.westlancs.gov.uk/moneyadvice. To use the service please or email moneyadvice@westlancs.gov.uk or call the team on 01695 585230. An appointment can be made to visit you at home or in one of the Council’s customer service points in Skelmersdale or Ormskirk.

If you are not a Council tenant you can contact Citizens Advice on 0344 245 1294 for advice and support. Citizens Advice Lancashire West is based in unit 47 at the Concourse Shopping Centre in Skelmersdale. Their website is www.citizensadvicelancashirewest.org.uk.

Councillor Jennifer Forshaw, portfolio holder for Housing and Landlord Services, said: “The festive season is a time when we want to buy nice presents for our family or go all out to make Christmas Day really special.

“If you are short of money and struggling for credit then going to a loan shark can be tempting. But in the long run this can create massive problems for you and your family. So if you are one of our tenants please call our Money Advice Service so you don’t fall into the loan shark trap.”

Some loan sharks will threaten you by saying you will be prosecuted and even sent to prison if you don’t pay them. This is not true, as an unlicensed lender a loan shark has no legal right to recover the debt. Any lender – licensed or unlicensed – who harasses you is breaking the law.

To report a loan shark problem and get help you can:

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