Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister Jeff Cuthbert is backing a new campaign warning people of the dangers of using loan sharks. Community Housing Cymru and the Wales Illegal Moneylending Unit (WIMLU) have a launched the 'Don't Get Bitten by Loan Sharks' campaign to combat the problem of illegal money lenders. Every year in Wales , thousands of people turn to illegal money lenders or loan sharks. Figures from WIMLU reveal that number of people in Wales turning to loan sharks has risen from 15,000 victims in 2009 to 26,000 victims in 2011/12, a 40% increase. Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister Jeff Cuthbert said: "Many people are facing tough times, especially after Christmas and as the full impact of the changes to welfare kick-in. However, no matter how difficult things become, our message is that no one should even consider the temptation of using loan sharks. Turning to these people only leads to distress, worry and ultimately the loss of more money. There is legitimate, reliable advice and affordable loans available for those who find themselves with money problems. That is why the Welsh Government is providing financial support to credit unions and advice services to help our communities." This month the Welsh Government announced a 1.2 million of financial support for credit unions across Wales to help them increase membership and develop additional financial services and products to meet the needs of customers. Stephen Grey , from WIMLU said: "Many illegal lender and loan sharks have operated without impunity and used fear and intimidation to carry on their business. Our figures reveal that 75 per cent of people who use loan sharks are on benefits and 65 per cent of victims are women." Community Housing Cymru's Group Chief Executive Nick Bennett said: "Loan sharks and high interest lenders prey on the deprived, the disabled, those on low incomes or feeling the pinch of benefit reform, by saddling them with debts they simply cannot repay. Victims are left with the scars of spiralling debt, fear and worry." .
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