A CAMPAIGN to highlight the dangers of loan sharks has been launched in Burnley.
The drive, aimed at people of all ages, is also urging families who have been victims of loan sharks to report the crime.
It is being pushed by the England Illegal Money Lending Team in partnership with Lancashire County Council Trading Standards, Burnley Faith Centre, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Calico Homes, Burnley Campus and Burnley Borough Council.
Youngsters from the Burnley Campus, in Barden Lane, performed play “A Loan in Burnley” to mark the launch and show the impact illegal money lenders can have on individuals and communities.
Campaign mascot Sid the Shark also visited Barden Primary School to host an assembly on the dangers of loan sharks and launch a colouring competition.
Other activities planned to highlight the issue are football tournament, dance sessions and karting.
Coun. Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council and Cabinet member responsible for trading standards said: “I very much welcome this imaginative initiative. By working in partnership with the Illegal Money Lending Team and other organisations, we will raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing money from loan sharks.
“The loan sharks will not be tolerated within Lancashire and the week of action is part of an overall strategic approach to tackling illegal money lending and the related serious criminality. Loan sharks usually start off as friendly and helpful, but can soon change when their victims can’t meet the extortionate interest rates.
“My advice to anyone in Burnley and the rest of the county who needs to borrow money or who’s experiencing financial difficulties is to approach legitimate sources of help like credit unions.”
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, added: “Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities. These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford. Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods.” Anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark is urged to report them by calling 0300 555 2222.