Government to purge loan sharks

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The Independent Online

Loan sharks may soon find it far harder to do business in Britain. The Government has said it will extend a series of local pilot projects designed to tackle rogue lenders to the rest of the UK.

Over the past three years, Trading Standards officers and police in Birmingham and Glasgow have identified over 200 loan sharks and shut down loan books worth more than £3m. A number of people have even gone to prison.

Now the Government has promised an extra £3m to take the schemes nationwide.

"Loan sharks are criminals who prey on vulnerable people. We are committed to shutting these thugs down and bringing them to justice," said John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

"Our targeted teams will make sure anyone who feels trapped or scared has the confidence to report these crooks and put a stop to their illegal behaviour."

An estimated 165,000 people a year fall into the clutches of loan sharks. These debtors can face having to repay their borrowing at extortionate rates of interest, sometimes many thousands of per cent a year. In some cases, failure to keep up with repayments can lead to borrowers being physically assaulted.

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