Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates has warned constituents to guard themselves against unscrupulous loan sharks this Christmas.
A recent report by the Money Advice Service has shown that more than one in 10 people across the UK who took on debts to fund Christmas 2011 are still paying off their loans as this year’s festive season approaches.
The research also found that in Wales, 36% of people questioned said it would be more difficult to afford Christmas this year.
The AM said financial help and advice was available to groups that need it and there were alternatives to illegal loan sharks.
Mr Skates said: “As families in Denbighshire brace themselves for a winter of soaring energy bills and increasing food prices, there is a risk vulnerable people will fall into financial hardship and approach unscrupulous loan sharks to help them get through.
“The average price of Christmas is now up to £600, more costly than ever before. It is therefore very important that low-income groups in Denbighshire get the advice and support they need over the Christmas and New Year period and avoid the predatory loan sharks operating in the area.
“Some victims are being charged thousands of per cent interest by rogue money lenders operating without a licence from the Office of Fair Trading. We need to be clear that these individuals are breaking the law because lending money without a licence is a crime.
“If anyone is having problems with loan sharks or is being pressured into borrowing money, please get in touch with the Wales’ Illegal Money Lending Unit for advice and support.
“If you are having problems this Christmas then there are viable alternatives to loan sharks, such as the local credit union which is a much more affordable way to borrow money.”
* WIMLU has a dedicated hotline number (0300 123 3311) that is answered 24 hours a day for anyone who is concerned about a loan they have taken out, and all information you give to the investigators is confidential.