A new Stop Loan Sharks reporting app launched this week featuring animation designed by Halton Borough Council’s Trading Standards Officers, aimed to simplify reporting of illegal lenders and funded by the loan sharks themselves!
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) launched a new smartphone app nationally to make it quicker and easier for people to report loan sharks and access support services.
The Stop Loan Sharks app, which launched on Wednesday, September 23, includes a contact form and phone number to report loan sharks, as well as information to help victims of illegal money lending to get support.
The free app also highlights the tell-tale signs that you are dealing with a loan shark, including cash loans without paperwork, extortionate interest, use of benefits or bank cards as security and threatening behaviour or violence to get money.
The app was developed in partnership with MakoMedia (a Widnes company) and Halton Borough Council and funded from cash recovered from loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
It also provides information to various frontline professionals who may meet loan shark victims in the course of their work – for example debt advisors, social workers and housing staff.
These professionals can read information on how to recognise the signs and respond to disclosures and where to refer clients to for specialist support.
Other features include a search tool to help users find credit unions and legitimate lenders, links to confidential debt advice services and push notifications about loan shark arrests and court cases.
Users can also access case studies, experiences and real-life stories from actual victims and survivors of illegal money lending, alongside links to other media and videos.
The launch of the Stop Loan Sharks app came after the latest IMLT data revealed an increase in online reports during the first half of 2020.
Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board Member for Trading Srandards, Cllr Dave Cargill, said: “Loan sharks have a detrimental impact financially, physically and emotionally on those who borrow from them, so it’s important we work together to stamp out this callous crime and ensure victims are given the support they need.”
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said “We are pleased to launch our new smartphone app and give victims of illegal money lending additional ways in which to access specialist practical and emotional support quickly, easily, discreetly, and safely.
“We know from research it takes on average three years for a victim to come forward for help after borrowing from a loan shark. Using technology will improve a victim’s access to support services at the touch of a button and make it easier for people to report incidents and find legitimate lenders.”
Anyone needing support can get in touch via the Stop Loan Sharks app or by calling the 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222 to speak to a trained officer.
The Stop Loan Sharks app is free to download on both iOS and Android devices on the App Store and Google Play Store.
For more information, go to www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.