Venice, August 22 - Credit toward Italian households shrank five billion euros from May 2012 to May 2013, putting families at risk of exploitation, particularly in southern Italy, a small business association revealed on Thursday. A study conducted by the CGIA of Mestre based on Bank of Italy data found that 59% of the total, or nearly three billion euros of the contraction, hit southern Italy, where Italy's most notorious organized crime groups are based. In Calabria, home to the infamous 'Ndrangheta mafia, legitimate credit extended to households fell 4.3%, marking a contraction of 374 million euros. Loans fell 4.2% in Basilicata, and slipped 2.7% in Sicily and Molise. In Campania, where Naples and the Camorra mafia are located, legitimate loans fell by 794 million euros, or 2.6%. "In other words, against the credit contraction faced by consumer families, especially felt in the south, there is the danger that exploitation from loan sharks - already present in these territories to a greater extent than in other places - could assume alarming dimensions," warned Giuseppe Bortolussi, secretary of the CGIA.