Community bank partners with Luton Council to tackle loan sharks in town

Over 3,500 are in debt to a loan shark in Luton, a survery suggests
£1 coins are seen with the new £10 note. (Photo Illustration by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)£1 coins are seen with the new £10 note. (Photo Illustration by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
£1 coins are seen with the new £10 note. (Photo Illustration by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A community bank has partnered with Luton Borough Council to raise awareness of loan sharks to support the England Illegal Money Lending Team’s (IMLT) Stop Loan Sharks week.

Money Matters Community Bank is highlighting how to spot illegal lenders during the week of action, which started on October 24, A study conducted by the Financial Inclusion Centre in 2022 estimated that more than 3,700 people in Luton are in debt to loan sharks.

Tony Quigley, head of IMLT said: “These illegal money lenders are experts at deception. They are friendly and approachable

at first, but when the time comes to make the repayments they can show their true face – a ruthless criminal intent on exploiting the most vulnerable,”

He added: “We want people to be aware that not all illegal money lenders look like they do on TV. They can be another mum in the playground, a neighbour, a work colleague, even a longstanding family friend. There are far safer ways of accessing affordable credit, like

credit unions.

"If anyone thinks they have been targeted in this way, they should contact our specialist team of advisers in confidence for help and support.”

Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, Luton Council leader, said: "Loan sharks are a menace preying on people on low incomes. We are determined to work with partners to address the issue of high-cost credit in our community, helping people access the benefits and advice available to them and making sure people who need it have access to affordable credit.

"That is why we are working with Money Matters Community Bank and Luton Rising to create a more financially resilient and empowered Luton."

Anyone who thinks they have been targeted by an illegal money lender or has information about illegal lending is urged to contact the IMLT. People can call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 222; text a report to 078600 22116 or send a private message here.

Dennis O’Connor, chairman of the board of Money Matters Community Bank, said: “We believe that credit unions like ours are at the forefront of the fight against loan sharks. We are committed to providing responsible and ethical financial services to our members.”

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