The acknowledgement of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin’s not-for-profit savings and loans co-operative’s vigorous efforts to rid the county of loan sharks has been recognised by England’s Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) in a certificate of accreditation.
The IMLT investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders while supporting those who have borrowed money from a loan shark.
At the same time, raising awareness of the dangers of borrowing from unregulated lenders.
Steve Barras, development officer at Just Credit Union, said: “We are delighted that our work to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks has received national recognition in the award of a certificate of accreditation.
“This is particularly so in difficult financial times when people may be tempted to borrow from unregulated lenders.
"For not only are the interest rates extortionate, but loan sharks will use threats, intimidation and even violence to extract every penny they can.”
The IMLT estimate there are 310,000 people in debt to illegal money lenders in the UK.
Working alongside credit unions across England, the IMLT has been able to raise awareness of the threats that loan sharks present to communities.
At the same time, raising awareness that credit unions offer an alternative.
Steve said: “The IMLT encourages people to join credit unions in order to save regularly and enable them to obtain legal, affordable loans when emergencies arise.
“We have worked with the IMLT for several years, not only raising general awareness, but also working on specific projects.
“These include working closely with schools and using money confiscated from convicted loan sharks as an incentive to encourage people to save.”
Information about how to report a loan shark, or get help, can be found on Just Credit Union’s website at www.justcreditunion.org or via the IMLT national helpline on 0300 555 2222.