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A campaign is being held in Tendring this week to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks.
20 organisations - including Essex County Council Tendring Citizen's Advice Bureau and the Clacton Crime Prevention Panel - have signed a pledge to stamp out the crime.
Through the campaign they aim to encourage people to turn away from loan sharks and report the crime if they have been a victim, by calling 0300 555 2222.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team will also be visiting Alton Park Junior School and Clacton Coastal Academy to offer advice to parents at the gates, visiting homes and delivering leaflets with information.
You will also be able to get advice on loan sharks this week at the following locations between 11am and 1pm:
Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth said: "llegal money lending is a crime which we continue to face across the country.
"With bills that continue to rise, and the access to credit remains difficult, it is important to make our residents aware of the dangers of signing up with one of these unscrupulous lenders. There is advice available on where to go for help if you need it and how to borrow money more wisely."
Tendring District Council Leader Peter Halliday said it is vital that the public are made aware of the potential dangers of obtaining money from loan sharks.
"They are often preying on the most vulnerable members of our community and it usually leads to them getting into even greater debt and financial difficulty as well as the other problems which can follow from this situation. "The council fully backs this vital campaign and I recommend anyone who is a victim to report the matter as soon as possible. I also urge people to attend the sessions to find out more and get valuable advice."
Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: "Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities. These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford.
"Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods. We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to report them in confidence on 0300 555 2222, as we can help."
Nationally the Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 220 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to more than 150 years worth of custodial sentences.
They have written off almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 19,000 victims.
To report a loan shark: