Alarm bells ringing as loan sharks seek to exploit cost of living crisis

A warning has been issued over loan sharks looking to prey on people struggling to make ends meet during the cost of living crisis.

Halton Credit Union (HCU), based in Runcorn Shopping City, said illegal moneylenders are increasingly “prevalent” and spinning amid financial hardship among the public.

The HCU has now teamed up with Mike Amesbury, Labor MP for Weaver Vale, to discuss the issue and the services available to Cheshire residents, and to sound the alarm about the increased risks of loan sharking.

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Mr Amesbury has also agreed to host a room in parliament and has invited other Cheshire MPs for the HCU to promote his services.

HCU’s mission is to provide affordable credit and, in addition to savings accounts and loans, the credit union also points customers to the support provided by Citizens Advice Halton and the charity StepChange.

Gareth Heesom, Deputy Managing Director of HCU, said: “We are not the same as other loan companies.

“We have a philosophy that we want people out of poverty.

“We don’t want to push more poverty on people.

Halton Credit Union in the market town of Runcorn.

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t exist, but unfortunately it’s not an ideal world.

“And with companies like Provident no longer making loans, unfortunately, you are seeing the rise of loan sharks again.

“They are becoming more and more prevalent.”

Mr Amesbury, whose office is located nearby, said: “The biggest challenge in the community is the cost of living crisis.

“People are on their knees.

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“Now, more than ever, cash flow can be an issue for people on benefits or low wages, especially as Christmas approaches or if they are faced with an unexpected cost.

Credit unions are safe and responsible organizations that you can trust. I know there’s a stigma to using a credit union, but really, it’s there for anyone.

“And there’s no judgment and no questions asked about why someone might need a loan and no credit checks required.”

The HCU is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which means that the FSCS can compensate depositors if the HCU is unable to meet its financial obligations.

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