NEW CAMPAIGN: A New campaign has been launched to stamp out illegal moneylenders. From l-r were: Sergeant Grace O’Connell, John O’Regan (PRO Chapter 23), Eamon Foley (MABS), Paddy Kevane (SVdP) and Helen Courtney Power (Chairperson Marketing Committee Chapter 23).

 

By Michelle Crean

 

With Christmas just weeks away Gardaí are behind a new campaign to stamp out illegal moneylenders – who cause intimidation, threatening behaviour and harassment.

This week, multi-agencies including Kerry MABS, Kerry and West Limerick Credit Unions, Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the Gardaí came together to launch the ‘Say No to Illegal Moneylenders where the lending has no ending’ campaign – to warn people of the danger they face.

 

“The lead up to Christmas can be a challenging time for a lot of vulnerable people who may be caught up in a cycle of moneylenders,” John O’Regan, PRO, Chapter 23 Kerry and West Limerick Credit Unions said.

 

“Loan rates can be very high and people can be caught in a vicious cycle of repeat borrowers without ever getting out of debt. Although we are all independent organisations, we have come together to advise people to avoid borrowing from illegal moneylenders in the lead up to Christmas.”

 

Support organisation MABS are on hand to help and offer free financial advice. The credit union can assist with a much lower rate of interest and flexible repayment terms. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul can also help to put practical measures in place and offer services such as Meals on Wheels, food hampers, fuel poverty, education etc.

 

“Illegal moneylenders are not to be confused with legal moneylenders,” Eamonn Foley, Kerry MABS, said.

 

“While legal moneylenders charge very high interest rates they are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland where legal credit agreements are in place and set code of practice under the Consumer Protection Code for Licensed Moneylenders must be adhered to.”

 

Eamonn added that illegal moneylenders are different they are people who use their own money to lend to people.

“What may or may not start off as a gentleman’s agreement can end up turning very nasty. Illegal moneylenders are not legal, there are no legal credit agreements in place. In a lot of cases we have heard there may be intimidation, threatening behaviour and harassment. The Gardaí are involved in this campaign to highlight the level of illegal moneylenders activity in Kerry. We would ask people to think twice before getting involved with illegal moneylender activity, if you do go down this route and need support then we would encourage you to contact the gardai confidentiality who will investigate this matter.”

 

A list of support organisations includes: MABS: 076-1072190 – www.mabs.ie, Garda Siochana – Contact your local garda station, St Vincent de Paul – 066-7128021 www.svp.ie and your local credit union – www.creditunion.ie.