WREXHAM Council has urged residents to avoid borrowing money from loan sharks.

They have stated that people who are struggling financially can often look for a quick fix, but it is important to know that there are always better options available than taking out a loan with these illegal lenders.

The Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit (WIMLU), which is the Government agency that investigates and prosecutes loan sharks, has encouraged the public to ‘bite back’ by reporting these individuals, which in return could help to remove them from your community.

Loan sharks are people who operate illegally without a consumer credit licence and prey on people who are vulnerable, whether because of poverty or debt, or difficulties in their lives such as addiction or health problems.

WILMU warn that loan sharks will rip off borrowers by charging extortionate interest, with rates as high as 400,000 per cent APR not being unheard of, as well as adding on penalty payments as and when they want.

Cllr Hugh Jones, lead member for people – communities, partnerships public protection and community safety, said: "Loan sharks can appear friendly when lending you a sum of money, but don’t be deceived - these are exploitative people who will use threats, intimidation and violence to secure their payments.

"They specifically target vulnerable people and they don’t think twice about adding further debt, which can mount up rapidly.

"You might have planned on paying off your debts within a few weeks, but in all likelihood, you’ll be making payments for much, much longer than this.

"There’s no paperwork for your loan and loan sharks will make and change the rules as they wish."

The message to anyone in this situation is that there is help available and you can report in confidence to the illegal moneylending team who can support you and tackle the criminals.

A spokesperson for WIMLU, added: "Loan sharks should be warned - we are determined to stamp out this crime."

If you are a loan shark victim, or think there may be a shark operating nearby, phone WIMLU via 0300 123 3311, which is a 24 hour helpline.

You can phone anonymously if you want and specialist client liaison officers will support and assist victims, advising on debt and other problems.

For further information, you can also contact the WIMLU via imlul@cardiff.gov.uk