‘The only thing getting ripped off this Christmas, should be the wrapping paper!’ is being shared on social media and is aimed at reminding people to make wise choices about their spending at this time of year.
Chairman of the Safeguarding Adults Board, John Brimley, said: “Christmas is a time for giving. However, for people on low incomes, such as benefits, minimum wage or pension, the need to buy presents for loved ones can be a pressure which tempts them into taking out short-term loans.
“This Christmas we are trying to warn people of the risks of getting loans from disreputable loan firms, or ‘loan sharks’. At this time of year in particular they look for opportunities to hook needy people into taking out loans which have extremely high interest rates, and which can push someone into a spiral of debt. We want people to be warned of these dangers.”
Anyone who is tempted to borrow money at this time of year should be wary of firms which fail to offer a proper credit agreement or don’t ask them to fill out relevant paperwork.
Some disreputable firms will insist on cash-only payments, usually paid weekly, and can sometimes ask for security in the form of a passport or cash cards.
In extreme cases, residents can be on the receiving end of threats, intimidation and even violence.
Victims are often fearful for their family, are constantly worried about money, and can suffer from anxiety and depression.
Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Safeguarding and Adult Social Care, Cllr Asif Ibrahim, who is a member of the Bolton Safeguarding Adult Board, said: “We have a responsibility to ensure that adults in the community who may be at risk are living as safely as possible, so this campaign is aimed at reminding people that there are always alternative ways of paying for Christmas.
“At the time, getting access to extra money quickly and easily might seem the best option but illegal loans and scams could result in people paying dearly well into the New Year and beyond.”
Bolton’s Credit Union, Hoot, can offer Christmas loans and savings plans for those with poor credit ratings.
Anyone who is currently in a situation where they are struggling to repay a loan or has fallen victim to a scam, can contact a number of agencies for help and advice: