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SHARK ATTACK; War declared on illegal loan companies who prey on vulnerable and charge 3,000% interest.

Byline: ED JAMES

PEOPLE struggling to pay off Christmas debts are being warned not to sign up with loan sharks who've been found charging interest rates of up to 3,000%.

Housing association Cartrefi Conwy has warned it will crack down on unscrupulous money lenders who plunge vulnerable tenants into ever-increasing debt. It comes as the Wales Illegal Money Lending Team's Stop Loan Sharks Project says it has identified more than 2,000 illegal lenders.

Spokesman for the project Ryan Evans said: "More than 525 have been arrested. We have managed to write off more than PS38m of illegal debt and helped more than 18,000 victims.

"Remember, loan shark debts are not enforceable and by taking action against loan sharks we can, in the long term, reduce rent arrears, evictions and homelessness."

Cartrefi Conwy Operations Director Gwynne Jones said: "Unfortunately we increasingly find that some tenants pay for Christmas by excessive borrowing on credit cards and bank loans.

"The problem then is what these tenants do when that credit is no longer available.

"It is then that loan sharks can move in to prey on these vulnerable people.

He added: "I'm determined that we will not allow loan sharks and illegal money lenders to prey on our tenants. And we will bite back should loan sharks move onto any of our estates."

A conference on the issue was held in Llanrwst, organised by Shelter Cymru and sponsored by Cartrefi Conwy.

Ryan Evans, Client Liaison Officer from the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit, said: "Our research also shows that most of those who used loan sharks - 90% - had found it impossible to raise the PS200-PS300 they needed for an emergency.

"Vulnerable people are left in a situation of falling further and further into debt and facing threats of violence and intimidation." ? Cartrefi Conwy tenants wanting advice should call 01492 805625 or e-mail lisa.jones@cartreficonwy.org The Wales Illegal Money Lending Team is on 02920 871093. If you have information about a loan shark operating in your community call the Hotline on 0300 123 33 11.
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 6, 2013
Words:346
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