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HELP IS AVAILABLE.

WIMLU has a dedicated hotline number (0300 123 3311) that is answered 24 hours a day for anyone who is concerned about a loan they have taken out, and all information you give to the investigators is confidential.

WIMLU'S investigations manager said: "You will come through to a trained officer and they will provide you with support and an immediate response to your problem.

"If you're being threatened, we will find a way to get you out of the situation as quickly as possible and start an investigation."

You should not have to repay any loan from an illegal money lender, as a loan made without a licence is unenforceable, unless there is a validation order from the Office of Fair Trading.

The WIMLU team also stress that if you are having problems making ends meet, don't turn to a loan shark.

People who go to illegal money lenders often feel they've exhausted all legal lending options, might not have access to affordable credit, or don't know about alternatives like social funds or grants.

But there is help available, including from local credit unions, and you can discuss your options with organisations like the National Debt Line, and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Government's communities minister, described loan sharks as "despicable and calculated criminals" who are happy to "intimidate and exploit others to enhance their own wealth".

He said: "They are driven by power and greed and usually prey on the most vulnerable people in the community who are in desperate need of financial help by offering seemingly helpful solutions to money worries in return for unrealistic and unaffordable repayments."

"I urge everyone to avoid loan sharks at all costs and to look at the much more affordable solution offered by credit unions across Wales."

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Carl Sargeant
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 2, 2012
Words:302
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