Are you feeling that ‘back to school’ fear?
Many families are dreading the end of summer and having to fork out for new school uniforms, with the average costing £315 per primary school pupil and £337 per secondary pupil, according to the Children’s Society.
Households that are already struggling due to the cost-of-living crisis could be at risk of falling victim to predatory lenders offering quick cash loans at terrifying rates.
Exorbitant interest as high as 100,000% and accompanying threats leave borrowers trapped in a cycle of debt for years.
The Stop Loan Sharks team at The England Illegal Money Lending Team are running a campaign to make sure families get access to safe, responsible sources of financial information and support this summer.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Back to school is always an expensive time of year for parents and with household budgets already stretched, loan sharks will be looking for any opportunity to exploit those most in need.
“These unlicensed lenders can have a hugely detrimental impact on our communities, trapping vulnerable people in a spiral of debt and resorting to the most extreme methods to claim back their illegal loans.”
Nearly half of people who borrow from illegal lenders use the cash for everyday expenses and bills, including school uniforms.
Loan sharks target vulnerabilities – emotional, financial or psychological – and use ruthless and sometimes deadly tactics to get their money back.
It is important parents know the dangers of loan sharks so they can spot opportunistic lenders who, at the time, may seem like a friend helping them out.
Look out for loan shark warning signs including no loan paperwork, refusing to give detailed information about the loan, intimidation, withholding items such as a bank card or passport until the debt is paid, and taking things from you if you do not pay on time.
Financial help for families
Warrington Housing Association’s money advice officer Steven Higham said: “Borrowing from loan sharks can easily lead to disastrous consequences. You should always look elsewhere for help with the costs of sending your child to school.
“While Warrington Council may not be helping with the cost of buying new school uniforms it has shared advice about other support available in the borough. Check if your child can get free school meals.
If you or someone you know has been affected by loan sharks, you can access confidential advice on the Stop Loan Sharks 24-Hour Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or their website.