PEOPLE across the Dearne are being warned of the dangers of using loan sharks to gain extra cash in the run up to Christmas.
The warning comes as the England Illegal Money Lending Team and Doncaster Council link up to crackdown on loan sharks targeting housing estates.
Twenty per cent of people who have fallen victim to loan sharks borrowed money to help pay for the festive season, the council said.
But such lenders rarely offer paperwork or clear terms. Extra amounts and interest payments are added randomly, so the debt spirals out of control.
Some victims have paid tens of thousands of pounds back on small loans over a number of years. Others have been forced to hand over their bank card and PIN to a loan shark.
As the debts cannot legally be enforced, the lenders will often resort to threats and violence. Loan sharks are often involved in wider criminality including drugs and firearms offences.
Deputy mayor, Coun Cynthia Ransome, said: “What may seem like a small loan to tide people over for Christmas could end up costing them well into the New Year.”