A WEEK-long campaign is taking place in Evesham to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is working with Wychavon District Council, Worcestershire County Council and Rooftop Housing Group to try and deter people from using loan sharks. Residents are also being encouraged to contact the IMLT if they have been the victim of a loan shark and advised of alternative affordable lending options.

The campaign began on Monday and includes a targeted leaflet drop in central Evesham and Bengeworth to inform residents of the work being done and point to help if needed.

Loan shark literature will also be distributed to Rooftop Housing tenants, and beer mats with advice on how to report illegal money lenders will be used in local pubs.

The “Sid the Shark” mascot was to be found around Evesham during the week highlighting the work of the IMLT and partners, and residents are being encouraged to share also paid children a visit at Swan Lane and Bengeworth first schools to promote the stop loan sharks poster competition and prizes.

Residents are also encouraged to complete a loan shark survey to enter a prize draw to win a £40 shopping voucher. Copies will be located at Rooftop Housing Group reception and sent home in pupils’ school bags.

Cllr Gerry O’Donnell, Board Member for Health & Wellbeing on Wychavon District Council, said: “Loan sharks are completely unscrupulous and take advantage of the most vulnerable. This campaign is to help support people to bite back against illegal lenders, by reporting loan sharks to the IMLT and saving through the Credit Union.

"Being a victim of a loan shark can have a serious impact on mental and emotional health and the council is committed to stamping out this awful crime.”

Money confiscated from convicted loan sharks will be used to back new credit union accounts in Evesham.