Spotlight on loan sharks
9:24am Monday 31st December 2012 in News
THE scourge of “loan sharks” will come under the spotlight early in the New Year.
Bury Council is among those taking part in a week of action to raise awareness of illegal money-lending and to offer vital advice and assistance to ensure the financial well-being of local people.
Last month, the local authority signed a protocol with the National Illegal Money Lending Team, authorising their officers to work in partnership with the council in relation to illegal money lenders operating in the borough.
Speaking at December’s full meeting of Bury Council, cabinet member Cllr Gill Campbell responded to a question from Cllr Andrea Simpson over what the authority could do to stop pay day loan companies and loan sharks from operating in the borough.
Cllr Campbell said: “Trading standards work to protect financially vulnerable consumers in a number of ways. Initially, we are consulted by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in relation to new and renewable credit providers when they apply for a consumer credit licence.
“This is done to provide local knowledge with regards to the suitability of the applicant and comment on their fitness to hold such a licence.
“We have carried out a number of audits of credit providers and provided reports to the OFT on the suitability of applicants. These have resulted in the refusal of some licences.”
Cllr Campbell added: “Illegal money lending covers a range of activities from persons who are actually licensed but are acting unlawfully as well as lenders who offer loans without being licensed. Illegal money lending is a criminal offence and the majority of money lenders are required to be licensed by the Consumer Credit Act. Trading standards have statutory powers to investigate this type of illegal activity.”