Sign up to Credit Union and you could get £25

Councillor Dave Downie with the England Illegal Money Lending Team's loan shark mascot.

Councillor Dave Downie with the England Illegal Money Lending Team’s loan shark mascot.

The first 50 people to join City of Plymouth Credit Union before 30 November 2016 and make at least three monthly payments into their account will qualify for a savings boost of £25.

To fund this project the England Illegal Money Lending Team is using proceeds of crime money, confiscated from convicted loan sharks to sponsor new Credit Union accounts. They are working in partnership with Plymouth City Council and the City of Plymouth Credit Union, as part of the ongoing Fishy Finance loan shark awareness campaign. In the run up to Christmas when people are having to spend more and budgets are being stretched, the campaign is encouraging people to use ethical lending schemes in the city.

In addition they are offering top tips on how to avoid debt both before and after Christmas.

Councillor Dave Downie, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities for Plymouth City Council, said: “Credit unions are a good way to borrow and save in a safe and ethical way, and this is even more important as we approach Christmas and people are spending more than they usually do, so we welcome this scheme from the England Illegal Money Lending Team.

“It is essential that we do all we can to protect people against loan sharks and make sure there are alternatives available. I am sure the first fifty people who sign up to the scheme will also appreciate the extra £25 as well.”

#FishyFinance Loan sharks campaign

#FishyFinance Loan sharks campaign

Clare White, Assistant Manager at City of Plymouth Credit Union, said: “You could save yourself a substantial amount of money by choosing a credit union loan. Credit unions do not seek to profit from their members; any surplus is either reinvested in the credit union or returned to members in the form of a dividend. Credit unions often provide credit at better rates than other sources; they can help reduce the stress related to financial worries.

“City of Plymouth Credit Union offers a range of different savings accounts; Christmas Saver, Corporate accounts, Payroll Deduction Schemes and Junior Savers. Rest assured your money is safe, as deposits of up to £75,000 are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.”

Top tips for avoiding debt this Christmas:

  1. Plan ahead– work out how much you are going to spend on each person – and stick to it.
  2. Don’t forget the everyday bills– Remember that rent, the mortgage, council tax, utility bills, food bills and other existing debts still have to be paid– and the consequences can be severe if they’re not. If you approach organisations early, they can often give you options to spread the cost.
  3. Don’t bank on an overdraft– If you need more money, don’t just run up an overdraft without talking to your bank first – it will work out much more expensive.
  4. Keep things simple– If you can afford to pay for your goods outright by cash, cheque, or debit card, don’t be persuade to take out extended credit agreements unless they really do work out cheaper.
  5. Shop around– Try as many places as possible to find the best price. Buy what you want and not what other people say you need.
  6. Buy safe to be safe– Whatever the deal, whatever the temptation, don’t buy from unauthorised traders and don’t borrow from unauthorised lenders. The initial savings and convenience may prove to be false economy.
  7. Read the small print– Check for hidden extras in any credit agreement. Work out the total amount payable. Ensure that the monthly instalments are within your budget before signing. Interest free credit can seem attractive, but if you don’t pay on time, or miss a payment, you could have to pay a lot more.
  8. Do your own credit checks– Some cards charge high interest rates, but provide interest free period or discounts. Budget for all these costs and put the payment dates in your diary.
  9. Be organised– If you’ve borrowed money don’t forget that it won’t be long before you have to make a payment. Make sure you pay on time, even if it is only the minimum, or you will be faced with additional charges.
  10. Start planning and saving for next Christmas– Once Christmas is over, it’s worth looking at what you did well and what you didn’t. Learn from your mistakes and start planning how you will do things differently next year.

For more information on the Credit Union scheme, visit the City of Plymouth Credit Union at Cumberland Street, Plymouth, PL1 4DX, log onto the Credit Union’s website at or call 01752 201329.

Report a loan shark: Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222

Text a report to 078600 22116


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Find out more about Plymouth’s #FishyFinance campaign at or search #FishyFinance on twitter.

Other useful contacts

  • Advice Plymouth– Advice Plymouth is a service commissioned by Plymouth City Council and funded by the Big Lottery.  It is an award winning partnership led by Plymouth Citizen’s Advice and the core partners are Age UK Plymouth, Routeways and Plymouth Guild.
  • You can drop into the Advice Plymouth centre at Ernest English House, Buckwell Street, Plymouth PL1 2DA, onMonday, Tuesday, Wednesday 9am – 6pm and Thursday and Friday 9am – 5pm
  • You can also call Advice Plymouth on MondayWednesday and Friday 9am – 6.30pm, Tuesday and Thursday 9am – 8pm and Saturday 9am – 1pm on 03444 111 444.
  • StepChange Debt Charity– You can call the national StepChange Debt Charity helpline for free, impartial advice, on 0207 3914583.