BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM News Release (2009/45)
issued by COI News Distribution Service. 3 March 2009
New measures to
tackle criminals illegally lending money were announced today by
Consumer Affairs Minister Gareth Thomas.
The national hotline - which is confidential - is now up and
running and gives consumers one single point of contact.
A new website has also been launched providing information on
managing finances and how to borrow money safely.
The Stop Loan Sharks teams have successfully prosecuted more than
60 people with a further 90 prosecutions underway. This amounts to
nearly 40 years of custodial sentences for illegal lending and
The teams have supported more than 7,000 victims of illegal money
lenders. The first two pilot schemes were launched in September
2004 and then rolled out to every region of England, Wales and
Scotland in 2007.
Their work has meant around £14million has been saved for
consumers who were locked in illegal deals with these money lenders.
Consumer Affairs Minister, Gareth Thomas, said: "Loan sharks
fleece hard-earned cash from their victims causing great distress
"Calling this hotline gives victims the chance to talk in
confidence. They get advice and support and the information
provided helps the team to take action to stop illegal money lending.
"The teams are having huge success in bringing these
criminals to justice and are saving consumers significant amounts
The national hotline - which is confidential - is: 0300 555 2222.
And the website is: http://www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
Consumers can also text 'loan (space) shark (space) and your
message' to 60003.
Notes to editors
1. The national helpline replaces the individual regional numbers.
2. Government has committed £11m since 2004 (first two pilot
areas were Glasgow and Birmingham) to tackling this problem and
will continue to fund a team in every region until March 2011.
3. An estimated 165,000 households in the UK use an illegal money
lender each year according to independent research commissioned by
the then DTI (Nov 2006)
4. The Consumer Credit Act 1974 requires lenders to be licensed
by the OFT. Trading Standards departments have responsibility for
enforcement against unlicensed lenders.