Residents are being warned about the perils of borrowing from unscrupulous lenders or loan sharks, as they prey on people trying to cope with the pressures of Christmas.
Northumberland County Council is working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to raise awareness of the tactics used byillegal money lenders.
Loan sharks take advantage of vulnerable people in desperate situations, by lending them money at extremely high interest rates, trapping them into a cycle of debt and misery.
They rarely set their terms out on paper, keeping their borrowers in the dark, but they are known to charge extortionate interest rates.
Borrowers then become trapped into spiralling debt by the sharks who often resort to the most extreme methods such as violence, threats or intimidation to pressure them into paying the loan back.
County councillorJohn Riddle, cabinet member for housing and public protection, said: “Christmas is a very expensive time of year; the pressure to spend is immense and with it the temptation to incur debt people can ill-afford.
“If you find yourself struggling financially, borrowing money from a loan shark is never the answer. The consequences can be dreadful and I urge people not to be tempted by what may appear to be the easy option of an unlicensed lender.
“If you do need to borrow, it’s important to fully understand the true cost of borrowing and borrow from a responsible, ethical source such as the Northumberland Community Bank.”
The Community Bank provides structured and affordable repayment plans to help local people to manage their money. Visit www.northumberlandcommunitybank.co.uk