More than a quarter of people are resorting to using credit cards to buy food, and a fifth have borrowed money in order to pay for rising prices, it’s reported.
A poll by Ipsos, carried out for Sky News, shows that 18 per cent of respondees have borrowed money in the last year to pay for rising costs of living.
“Borrowing from reputable sources is one thing, but people, who are already struggling to pay their bills, resorting to borrowing from back-street lenders and loan sharks, is something to be really concerned about,” says Steve Gardiner of Heart of the South West Trading Standards.
“As costs of living rise and household budgets are stretched further and further, and with many having to choose between heating and eating, you can understand the temptation to take up loans to see you through.
“And with Christmas not too far away, and families with young children planning ahead, there’s heightened risk right now of people turning to unscrupulous sources of lending.
“Illegal money lenders exploit financial difficulties to lock their victims into a cycle of debt.”
In England, a money lender has to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to lend money legally. Money lenders who aren’t authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority are breaking the law. They are known as loan sharks.
Heart of the South West Trading Standards, which operates across Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, work with the national Illegal Money Lending Team to combat loan sharks. They have an expert team ready to offer advice and support.
“Please don’t be tempted to borrow from loan sharks,” says Steve Gardiner. “If you have borrowed from a loan shark, are worried about someone else who has, or want to report a suspected loan shark, you can contact the England Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or via their Stop Loan Sharks website.
“If you think you are a victim or know someone who is, you can also talk to them online using their confidential live chat service.”
Find out more about loan sharks on the Citizens Advice website.