OFT Warns about Illegal Moneylending
Following the recent conviction of a Peel man for illegal moneylending, the OFT has issued a stark warning to consumers.
OFT Chief Officer Mike Ball explained “After a lengthy and meticulous investigation, Trading Standards Officers have put one criminal out of business; but we cannot assume that there are not others who will seek to exploit the most vulnerable in society”
The strong advice to consumers is to never borrow money from loan sharks. Whilst short term costs may appear affordable, the real interest rates are often exorbitant. Once entrapped in the arrangement, the unwary consumer will face psychological pressure to ensure repayment. In the worst cases, if and when borrowers find they can’t keep up with repayments, there may be either threats of violence toward debtors or even actual physical harm carried out.
The advice to a consumer who is already a victim of a loan shark is simple – the OFT is here to help you – come and talk to us.
The OFT is the registration authority under the Moneylenders Act and those who are properly registered have passed a fit and proper test and adhere to appropriate standards. Unregistered moneylenders are quite simply criminals.
Mike Ball added “The OFT appreciates that sometimes people will find themselves in such difficulty that a loan shark may appear to be the only escape. We offer a strictly confidential debt advisory service which can and does assist those in difficulty to get themselves back on an even keel”
“And for those who are tempted to lend money without registration, the penalties for illegal moneylending are severe with potentially an unlimited fine; and it is not a question of if you get caught but rather when you will get caught. In addition, offenders will be subjected to ‘proceeds of crime’ investigations which could ultimately result in them losing assets such as cars and houses bought through the proceeds of their criminal activity. Such investigations strike directly at the main motive for crime, deterring offenders, disrupting organised crime and showing the public that crime doesn’t pay.”
He concluded “This particular investigation is another good example of how the OFT uses its limited resources in partnership with other enforcement agencies to protect the vulnerable, whether they are targeted by illegal moneylenders or rogue traders.”
The OFT would urge anybody with any information to contact its officers for a confidential discussion by telephoning 686500.