THE dangers of borrowing from loan sharks were highlighted in a week long campaign.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership with Blackburn and Darwen Trading Standards, Healthy Living and a range of local partners showed community members why loan sharks should always be avoided.

A series of events were focused around the Shadsworth area, which encouraged people to consider the dangers, especially in the run up to Christmas. Events included ‘Bingo with Sharky’ the England Illegal Money Lending Team’s mascot, a free drop in advice day and a ‘Street Clean with Sharky’ event.

The team also offered advice at Shadsworth Youth Club’s Tuesday evening session and worked with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service as they offered fire safety advice.

Posters and leaflets displaying the 0300 555 222 hotline number for reporting loan sharks were distributed throughout the community, and the Team visited 500 homes to speak to residents.

An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark, these lenders usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment including threats, violence and intimidation.

Councillor Yusuf Jan-Virmani, said: “Illegal money lenders prey on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in society who can least afford to pay the extortionate rates that they charge.

“Especially in the run up to Christmas when money may be tight, I urge residents not to use loan sharks no matter how tempted they might be.

“There are no safe guards and rarely any paperwork to stop them taking advantage of you and charging whatever they like.”