Citizens Advice Sedgemoor Research and Campaigns Team are currently working on three themes.
First up – Loan Sharks. As Payday Loans companies seem to be less of a problem, so Loan Sharks are a growing concern, especially in the run up to Christmas.
Loan Sharks are unlicensed and/or illegal lenders. They may use harassment, violence, sexual assault and blackmail if payments are missed. They will lend to anyone and likely to require repayments of at least twice the original amount. This may link with other criminal or even terrorist activity.
The majority of loan sharks’ victims are unemployed, female, in receipt of benefits and in rented homes. They are likely to have tried to borrow elsewhere first and often have other debts.
It is a bad idea to use a Loan Shark because:
- The interest rates which may be more than 100%
- The loan may result in harassment, threats or violence if repayments are missed
- There may be pressure into taking out more loans to pay off the first.
- There is no paperwork and the lenders are not licensed.
- Your money may be laundered for use by organised crime.
We want to raise awareness so that people aren’t tempted to use Loan Sharks and we would encourage any enforcement action.
We are also working on Affordable Housing – which seems to be a growing problem in our area, especially in rural parts.
Next up – Living Wage issues – a cross Somerset campaign in collaboration with the Living Wage Foundation.