Sefton Council has issued a warning that people do not turn to loan sharks when needed.
The cost of living is expected to soar this month, with gas and electricity bills expected to rise by an average of 54% from today.
Some people unable to pay their bills have found themselves trapped by unscrupulous and unlicensed lenders who provide loans at astronomical interest rates.
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Loan sharks target people through local, online and community sites, as well as through social media groups. According to the council, they advertise loans that do not require any credit checks.
They have also been known to ask for people’s details, including copies of their passports or photos of their house, street and house number.
Simon Burnett, Sefton Council’s Communities Manager, said: ‘At times like these we tend to see an upsurge in loan shark activity preying on vulnerable families facing difficult decisions about their finances.
“They give the impression that they want to help, but they don’t have the best interests of their victims at heart. In fact, they actively seek to trap struggling families in spiraling debts, backed by threats, intimidation and violence as they demand payment.
“Sefton Council can help people in financial difficulty and the sooner they contact us the more likely we are to work with them to find workable solutions.”
Anyone who thinks they have been targeted by a loan shark can confidentially report them to an Illegal Money Lending Team by calling 0300 555 2222, texting LOAN SHARK and details to 60003 or emailing [email protected] .gov.uk