East Durham Homes, together with the National Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team and NEFirst Credit Union, are running a number of events and leaflet drops to raise awareness of the perils of fraudulent lending and loan shark activities.

Events will be held at Shotton Colliery Community Centre on Monday, 26 September between 11.30am and 3pm;Wednesday, 28 September between 10.30am and 1.30pm; and Friday, 30 September between 11am and 3pm.

Heather Wake, Senior Employment and Support Officer at East Durham Homes, said: “If you think you are a victim of illegal money lending, this is nothing to be ashamed of as help is at hand.

“Quite often loan sharks target society’s most vulnerable, and then use threatening behaviour, violence and intimidation, so people can feel trapped.

“Officers at our events can offer free and confidential advice on the next steps to take if you think you have been targeted; as after all, loan sharks are criminals.”

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Illegal money lenders can have a horrific impact on our communities, and should never be used under any circumstances.

“It is important for people to realise that alternatives to borrowing from loan sharks are available if you are in financial difficulty.”

Event attendees can find out more about obtaining a loan in a legal, affordable and sensible way; as well as how to start saving with their local credit union with the chance of a £25 reward for those who open an account.

For more information call East Durham Homes on 0800 032 0835 or email enquiry@eastdurhamhomes.co.uk

If residents think that there are illegal money lenders operating in their area they can call the Illegal Money Lending Team anonymously on 0300 555 2222, email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or text LOAN SHARK and the lender’s details to 0786 002 2116.

For more information visit www.gov.uk/report-loan-shark