Councilor says illegal money lenders waiting outside post offices are becoming a ‘huge problem’
Vulnerable people are being targeted outside post offices by illegal moneylenders, a Sinn Féin adviser told Co Louth.
he ‘huge problem’ of moneylenders and loan sharks was highlighted by Cllr Kevin Meenan at the last Dundalk Joint Policing Committee meeting.
He said he noticed the practice had become more common over the past year, particularly over the festive period in December, and said illegal moneylenders waited for people to cash in their social benefits, to have them delivered immediately.
Cllr Meenan added that lenders are charging exorbitant interest rates, with those who miss repayment seeing their bills doubled and even tripled in some cases.
“Particularly over the Christmas period, we had to deal with many people who had problems repaying lenders. The money would have been taken from them,” he explained.
“The state management team at the Council have been excellent in terms of working with these people. Some of these people have fallen behind on their rents. There are huge problems here.
He said the practice created “absolute misery” and one of the “most disgusting things I have personally encountered”.
He told the meeting that he often had to work with the local St. Vincent de Paul society to help victims of illegal moneylenders whenever possible.
Some of these people did not have enough money to buy food or pay their heating or electricity bills, Cllr Meenan said.
He also called on the local gardaí and Louth County Council to find solutions to the problem.
In response, Chief Superintendent Alan McGovern encouraged anyone with information regarding illegal money lending to contact the gardaí.
“Money lenders must be licensed, there are no gray areas there. I would advise people who need financial support to go to MABS (the Financial Advice and Budgeting Service), which is a free and confidential service,” he said.
“But if they have any concerns about the payment or the potential for illegal money laundering, they should contact us immediately. We will provide them with confidential support in this regard.