A HOUSING group has committed to a zero-tolerance approach on loan sharks in east Durham.

County Durham Housing Group signed up to the Stop Loan Sharks charter, in Peterlee, pledging to encourage customers to report loan sharks, increase awareness of the risks associated with using illegal money lenders, and help tenants understand legal and affordable alternatives.

It has joined forces with the England Illegal Money Lending Team and organisations such as Durham County Council, East Durham College and NE First Credit Union to stage a week of action in the Peterlee and Shotton area.

County Durham Housing Group’s operational transformation project director, Mick Doyle, said: “Loan sharks prey on people who are desperate and cause untold misery in our communities.

“People need to know that there are much more affordable alternatives, where people are not exploited by unscrupulous lenders. In particular, credit unions are community-based and a great way for people to save and borrow.

“I would urge anyone who is aware of loan sharks operating in our communities to report them.”

Common signs that a lender could be a loan shark include being offered a cash loan with no paperwork or having huge amounts of interest or being threatened by a lender.

More help and support on tackling loan sharks is available at www.stoploansharks.co.uk or by calling 0300 555 2222 safely and anonymously.