A crackdown on illegal money lenders is being launched in Kingston in the run up to Christmas.

With many households feeling the squeeze ahead of the festive period, Kingston Council has teamed up with The Illegal Money Team to combat loan sharks.

The council is encouraging people not to turn to shady lenders in a bid to stay afloat during the Christmas spending spree.

Instead, it wants to raise awareness of legitimate loans organisations, such as credit union Kingston Savers, which is run by Kingston Voluntary Action and backed by the council itself.

Councillor Simon James, lead member for sustainable place, said: “The message this Christmas is clear – what may seem like a small loan to tide you over could end up costing you well into the New Year.

“The effect is not just financial – loan sharks can have a devastating impact on families.

“Christmas can be a tough time financially for many households. However, no matter how much you are struggling, loan sharks are not the answer."

If you have been the victim of a loan shark or to report loan shark activity call the Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 555 2222.

Alternatively, text ‘Loan shark’ with your message to 60003, email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or send a private message at facebook.com/stoploansharksproject.

For more information on Kingston Savers, email kingston.savers@kva.org.uk, call 020 8255 3335 or visit surreysave.co.uk.