Don't get bitten by a loan shark this Christmas

Christmas can be a difficult time for some families; the cost and added pressures may tempt some people into borrowing from a loan shark.

Residents should think twice before using an illegal money lender. We are encouraging those in the grip of a loan shark to come forward and speak to the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) on the confidential Stop Loan Sharks hotline which will be active over Christmas and New Year.

Loan sharks are criminals who prey on vulnerable communities and fleece their victims out of hard earned cash, often through intimidation and violence. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, we urge you to seek help by calling 0300 555 2222.

The IMLT's word of warning is: it's not about what's under the tree this Christmas but who's around it - don't let a loan shark be one of those people.

With an estimated 310,000 households in the UK borrowing from loan sharks every year, the team are warning people to avoid unauthorised lenders at all costs amid fears that illegal loans could result in hard up families repaying the lender into the New Year and beyond.