AN appeal has been issued to the Kerry public not to turn to illegal moneylenders in the lead-up to the expensive Christmas season.
Gardai, Kerry MABS, the credit union network and St Vincent de Paul have joined forces for an awareness campaign that encourages those in need of financial assistance not to turn to those who lend money illegally or I could lead to all sorts of dicculties.
John O’Regan, PRO, Chapter 23 Kerry and West Limerick Credit Unions, said the time before Christmas can be challenging for a lot of vulnerable people who may be caught up in a cycle of moneylenders.
“Loan rates can be very high and people can be caught in a vicious cycle of repeat borrowing 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,” he said.
Support organisation MABS is 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 while 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 and education costs.
Eamonn Foley of Kerry MABS said illegal moneylenders and are not to be confused with legal moneylenders. 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 a set code of practice must be adhered to.
“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,” Mr Foley said.
“Illegal moneylenders are not legal as there are no legal credit agreements in place. In a lot of cases we have heard there may be intimidation, threatening behaviour and harassment,” he added.
Gardaí are also involved in the awareness campaign to highlight the level of illegal moneylenders activity in Kerry and anybody with any concerns is asked to contact their local station.
Kerry MABS: 076-1072190 – www.mabs.ie
Garda Siochana: Contact your local garda station
St Vincent de Paul: 066-7128021 – www.svp.ie
Credit Union: Contact your local branch – www.creditunion.ie
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