A new money saving incentive has been launched in Sheffield as part of a scheme to warn residents about the dangers of dealing with loan sharks.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team is working in partnership with Sheffield Credit Union to promote saving and highlight the legal alternatives available for borrowing money.
A joint initiative will see the team use proceeds of crime money, confiscated from convicted illicit money lenders, to sponsor new credit union accounts.
The first 50 customers to open a Christmas Saver account and save at least £10 will be awarded with a £10 savings boost straight into their account before Christmas - so long as they continue to save and do not withdraw the funds until at least October 31.
Tony Quigley, head of service for the National Illegal Money Lending Team, said: "Illegal money lenders can have a horrific impact on our communities, and should never be used under any circumstances.
“We would always urge residents to look at borrowing from safe and legal alternatives, such as their local credit union. Loan sharks may appear friendly at first and act as though they’re offering a community service, but do not be fooled by this behaviour as it soon changes once monies are owed. "
An estimated 310, 000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt.