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Stop loan sharks

Matthew from Yorkshire began borrowing from a local loan shark, after giving up his job to care for his disabled wife. He was introduced by a friend to a friendly local man who arranged to lend him £20 to begin with to see if he would pay £30 back the next week, which Matthew did.

The loans began to get bigger; the terms were always 50% on top to be paid back the next week when benefits were paid. The debt was doubled each time a payment was late. Soon, Matthew was handing over most of his benefit money.

Matthew became extremely depressed and couldn't sleep. He started taking antidepressants, contemplated suicide and was selling everything he had to try and clear the debt. On one occasion Matthew was given some food vouchers by a local charity - the loan shark took these too.

On the day that Matthew finally made the call to the Illegal Lending Hotline, he was so depressed that he thought that ending his life was a sacrifice worth making in the hope that his family would be left alone. He made the choice to call and believes that this decision saved his life.

A year on from that first phone call Matthew is as happy as he’s ever been. The loan sharks were arrested and prosecuted and the family are now receiving the correct benefits, having cleared their legal debts. Matthew feels like a different person.

If you or anyone you know are paying a loan shark you can call the hotline on 0300 555 2222,or email and report them in confidence - you can remain anonymous if you wish. Loan Sharks are illegal and can be prosecuted, so don’t suffer in silence.

The England Illegal money lending Team are using January to raise awareness of 'Debt and Depression', you can find more information on their website, Twitter and Facebook.

* Names have been changed.

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