Neighbourhood Watch

Loan sharks

Loan sharks are illegal lenders who often target low income and desperate families. They might seem friendly at first but borrowing from them is never a good idea – even if you feel you have no other options.

Why loan sharks are bad

Loan sharks will start out appearing friendly. And if you keep up your repayments, they might stay that way.

But the reality is, even if you do, any money you borrow will come at a very high price.

There are many risks attached to borrowing from a loan shark:
• you pay far more in interest than you would through any legal borrowing.
• you might be harassed or threatened if you get behind with your repayments – there have been reports of people being intimidated or attacked
• you might be pressured into borrowing more money to repay one loan with another, and end up in a spiral of debt that you can never repay.

How to spot a loan shark

A loan shark might:
• offer little or no paperwork, such as a credit agreement or record of payments
• refuse to give information, such as the interest rate or how much you owe
• take items as security, such as passports, bank cards or driving licences
• increase the debt or add additional charges at any time
• refuse to allow you to settle your debt
• get nasty – they might resort to intimidation, threats or violence.

How to check a lender is legitimate

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) keeps details of all authorised lenders.

If a lender isn’t listed as having a current authorisation to lend money, don’t borrow money from them and don’t let them come into your home.

Check the FCA Financial Services Register to see if a lender is authorised.

Loan sharks and the law

Although some loan sharks resort to intimidation and even violence, they are not beyond the law.

Any lender – authorised or not – who harasses you is breaking the law.

Some loan sharks will threaten you by saying you will be prosecuted and even sent to prison if you don’t pay up.

This can’t happen – an unauthorised lender such as a loan shark has no legal right to recover the debt.

In fact, they have no legal right to make you pay the loan back at all – because the loan is illegal.

Stop Loan Sharks

Stop Loan Sharks investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders while supporting those who have borrowed money from a loan shark.

Website: http://www.stoploansharks.co.uk/who-we-are/

How to contact Stop Loan Sharks

You can contact them with general queries through their online form. To report a loan shark:

• Complete their short and safe online form and they will call you at a time to suit you.


• Call 0300 555 2222 at any time of the day or night


• Email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk


• Text the lender’s details to 07860 022116


Please note emails are monitored between 8.00am and 6.00pm Monday to Friday. If you need to report a loan shark urgently please call their helpline on 0300 555 2222 where someone is always available to talk to you. cent 2;\lsdprio

New support line for victims now live

A new victim service dedicated to supporting those affected by crime throughout their journey has launched in West Mercia.

At 8am this morning, (1st April), the new Victim Advice Line (VAL) went live. Those needing support can now access the free and confidential service and receive a care package that is bespoke to them.

To make it easier for those wanting to access the service, there are a number of ways for people to get in touch:

• The free and confidential phone line (0800 952 3000) is open 8am until 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am until 5pm on Saturdays
• A new website (www.victimadviceline.org.uk) is now live
• An online chat function, available on the website, gives those not wanting to use the phone an opportunity to talk to someone online
• If someone doesn’t have time to chat on the phone or online, there is also an option to email or use the contact form on the website

Recognising the needs of victims are different, the VAL will work with the victim and allow them to have greater ownership of their journey by allowing them to shape it themselves. Those that need someone to talk to also don’t have to have reported the crime to the police.

This new service is part of Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion’s commitment to ensuring victims of crime receive an improved and more consistent service, and is also a model that is being seen as best practice and a flagship across the country in delivering support to victims, having already been adopted by other PCCs and police forces.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “I am delighted to be officially launching the Victim Advice Line today. This new service marks the beginning of big changes to the way victims are supported.

“By working with an individual and making sure they’re getting the level of support they need, and deserve, we’re sure to see those affected by crime moving on with their life with greater confidence.

“This new service also allows better multi-agency working, such as with the police and other support services, which will ensure those affected by crime will have someone with them every step of their journey.”

West Mercia Police Assistant Chief Constable, Martin Evans, said: “We are truly committed to providing the best possible service for victims and survivors. We strive to always put victims at the heart of everything we do and the support that the Victim Advice Line will provide alongside us will be invaluable.

“Every member of our force is dedicated to ensuring we are always victim focussed and the VAL is a perfect reflection of our values and commitment.

Did you witness a robbery at around 11.30am on Tuesday (26 March) on Chapel Lane, Bell Heath?

West Mercia Police are appealing for witnesses or information following a robbery near Belbroughton.

The incident happened at around 11.30am on Tuesday, 26 March on Chapel Lane.

The victim, a man in his 30s, pulled up in his van outside an address on Chapel Lane when a white car containing two men pulled up next to him.

One of the men got out of the car and approached the victim, demanding he hand over the keys to his van.

The second man, believed to be carrying a bladed article, also got out of the car and approached the victim before threatening him.

The victim threw the keys to his van on the ground and fled the scene.

The two men then drove off in the van and the white car in the direction of Madeley Road.

The van was discovered abandoned a short time later on Harbours Hill, not far from where the incident happened.

The offenders had taken a large quantity of parcels from inside the van.

The first man is described as black, aged between 25 and 30-years-old, around 6′ tall and of athletic build. He is believed to have been wearing dark clothing and a hood.

The second man is described as in his 20s, with dark skin, around 5’11” tall and of slim build. He is believed to have been wearing dark clothing and a hood.

Detective Constable David Bunce from West Mercia Police said: “Thankfully the victim wasn’t injured as a result of this incident, but this was understandably a frightening ordeal for him that has left him shaken.

“We have launched a thorough investigation to identify those responsible and a number of enquiries are currently ongoing.

“We would urge anyone who may have witnessed the incident, seen anything suspicious or a white car being driven erratically in the area around the time of the incident, or think they may have been offered suspected stolen goods in the Bell End or Bell Heath areas to please get in touch.

“Anyone with any information, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, is asked to call West Mercia Police on 101 quoting crime reference number 22/27325/19 of 26 March.”

Alternatively, information can be given anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Van Stolen from Chapel Lane, Bell Heath

On Tuesday 26th March, reported at 11.45am, a delivery van was stolen from outside a house whilst delivery was being made, partial registration of van YJxxWVC.

Did you see the incident or have you seen any suspicious activity?  Phone the police 101, Incident number 0283s 260319

Fake Tv Licensing Emails

Action Fraud has received more than 5,000 reports about fake emails and texts purporting to be from TV Licensing. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information. 

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

For more information about how to stay safe online, visit cyberaware.gov.uk

Action Fraud has received more than 5,000 reports about fake emails and texts purporting to be from TV Licensing. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information. 

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

For more information about how to stay safe online, visit cyberaware.gov.uk

What did you get for Christmas?

A new bike? Tools? Something a thief would like to acquire?

Have you thought about the security of your garden shed?

Consider marking your property and secure the shed with a sturdy lock 🔐

SmartWater property marking kits can be obtained from FVCA – for residents of Fairfield, Wildmoor & Stoneybridge FREE OF CHARGE admin@fvca.org

ACTION FRAUD WARNING: HMRC SCAMS

Action Fraud has experienced an increase in the reporting of malicious calls, voicemails, text messages or emails to members of the public purporting to be from HMRC.

The fraudsters state that as a result of their non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable to prosecution or other legal proceedings such as repossession of belongings to settle the balance but can avoid this by arranging for payment to be made immediately by method such as bank transfer or by iTunes gift cards.

If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, bailiffs or in cases where the victim appears to be of overseas origin; deportation.

Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork or ability to verify the claims. Once the money is paid the suspects sever all contact.

It is vital that the public exercise caution when receiving messages or telephone calls of this nature.

What you need to do

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Instead, contact the company directly using trusted methods such as a known email address or phone number.

Listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. No genuine organisation will ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using iTunes Gift Cards, or any other type of voucher.

Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.

Report Phishing attempts. If you receive a call, text or email of this nature and have not lost money, report this as a phishing attempt to Action Fraud.

Bromsgrove District Council SCAM Alert

Bromsgrove District Council have been made aware of a SCAM email being sent to some of their residents which appears to be from their Council Tax department regarding over payments.
 

The link in the email takes you to a very good copy of the gov.uk website or the Council’s website and asks for lots of details – including mother’s maiden name etc.
 

Please be aware that this is a SCAM and the Council does not operate in this way. The Council will NEVER ask you for details like this. If you have any concerns or suspicions about correspondence ‘from us’ then please get in touch with the District Council to query it.
 

Please make family, friends and neighbours aware of this SCAM.