For an initial loan of £750, Kim was paying back £400 in interest. She says the pressure escalated after she had to disclose her payday just before Christmas a year
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A mother-of-two has found herself thousands of pounds in debt after borrowing £750 from a loan shark posing as a friend ten years ago.
Kim, now 41, and her then-partner took out four loans from the same woman and gave her half of their net income each month.
The couple, who lived in the North West of England, said the loan shark was a woman who had previously worked for a legitimate moneylender.
She said: “We trusted her. We thought she was operating legally and she told us we were ‘good payers’. She used to come and sit in our house and take care of my children.
“She told us about her family and her vacation. We were friends. We had known her for a while.”
For an initial loan of £750, Kim was paying back £400 in interest. The pressure escalated when the lender asked her when her payday was and harassed her until every payment was made.
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Kim still took out other loans. She explained: “We were both working and so people think you have money, but by the time you’ve paid your bills you don’t have much left in the pot.
“It’s hard if the washing machine breaks down or you don’t know where the money comes from for Christmas – and if someone throws money in your face, you don’t think too much about it .”
Then, one difficult Christmas, after many years of repayments, Kim realized she couldn’t afford a payment.
“She was constantly texting me and I felt harassed. I asked her if I could miss a month but the messages she sent back were that I had to pay. I had no choice.
“I thought, ‘This is not right.’ I went to Citizens Advice to find out what my rights were and it became clear that I was not dealing with a legitimate lender.”
The lender has been arrested and the case is ongoing.
Advising those in dire financial straits, Kim said, “It may seem like you have no other choice, but going with an illegal lender will make whatever situation you are in worse.”
The cost of living crisis could have people turning to desperate measures to pay their bills, a West Midlands police chief has warned.
Tom McNeil said he fears the pressure of paying household bills will force those most in need to take extreme measures to survive.
The Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner insisted there was no excuse for the crime, but that ‘desperate circumstances lead people to make desperate decisions’.
He accused Chancellor Rishi Sunak of “overseeing poverty” as he painted a bleak picture of the extreme measures struggling families could go to.
He said he feared people would turn to sex work or children would end up selling drugs “to help their mother pay to heat the house” or “feed their siblings”.
It comes as hundreds more people in the region have been sent en masse to food banks because they cannot afford to pay for food.
In a letter to the Chancellor, the Labor APCC said: “The level of poverty you are monitoring could lead to an increase in parents stealing to feed their children. We could see an increase in car theft. People could choose steal or steal to keep up the rent payments.
“Vulnerable people can be exploited in sex work. Children can be tricked into selling drugs by hardened criminals because they want to help their mothers pay to heat the house, feed their siblings and support moneylenders at a distance.”
Mr McNeil also accused the Chancellor, fresh out of scandals over his wife’s tax affairs and a lockdown party fine, of not doing enough to help the most disadvantaged families who have been hit by huge increases in energy bills and other household expenses.
He said: “This will include many families who were already struggling to cope, despite extremely hard work. Your tax increases, coupled with rising energy, travel and food prices, will create a wave of deep poverty and despair.
“I am extremely concerned that the impact of the rising cost of living will create the conditions for an increase in crime, including youth violence.”
Loan sharks – the warning signs
Loan sharks often appear as friends or friends through friends, who are there to offer a helping hand.
They may approach you on social media, in the pub or at work, but the reality is that strangers are unlikely to offer you money without a hold.
These pitfalls often include interest rates much higher than those of a normal bank, pressure to pay or blackmail to pay more than you owe, and the risk of being threatened or harassed if you cannot meet your repayments.
And more importantly, loan sharks are illegal in Britain.
Here are some warning signs to watch out for.
- A loan without papers or a formal or written agreement
- Refuse to give you specific details about the loan, such as the interest rate
- Hold your assets such as your passport and bank card until the debt is paid or as “collateral” on the loan
- Take things from you or intimidate you if you don’t pay on time
- Add more interest or fees so the debt never goes down
- Using threats or violence if you don’t pay
- Friendly demeanor from what is effectively a stranger that quickly turns into money talk.
It might seem like a tough step to take, but if you think you might be involved with a loan shark, you can get help. here.