Bucks Trading Standards has issued a warning about illegal money lending in the run up to Christmas.
Those who borrow money can end up paying excessive interest charges. Figures show 20% of people who borrowed from loan sharks do so at Christmas
Terry Carter, trading standards manager for Bucks, said: “People should beware of informal loans from a friend or colleague operating an apparently innocuous money-making scheme without a consumer credit licence.
“People struggle financially around Christmas and New Year, and we’re particularly concerned this year as our belt-tightening economic climate takes its toll on household budgets,
“It could initially appear quite innocent, but vulnerable victims short of cash can easily become trapped in a vicious cycle – owing someone far more than they can afford.
“It’s the kind of situation that is very difficult for us to detect, hence our warning.’
Across the country 20% of victims in past cases said they had borrowed money to pay for festivities, according to the England Illegal Money Lending Team – which Bucks Trading Standards works alongside.
Martin Phillips, cabinet member for community engagement at Bucks County Council, said: “There’s no need for our residents to be victims to loan sharks.
“Most of Buckinghamshire is served by credit unions, which can provide our residents with legal loans at reasonable interest rates.”
To report a loan shark call 0300 555 2222