A NEW campaign to raise awareness of loan sharks in Harwich and Dovercourt has been launched.

The bite back campaign, headed by The England Illegal Money Lending Team and Tendring Council, involves an anti-loan shark event, police training, loan shark quiz and school sessions with mascot Sid the shark.

On Monday, Tendring Council will join a range of organisations to sign the new zero tolerance pledge towards loan sharks.

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: "We are pleased to be working with our partners across Tendring as part of the bite back campaign to warn residents about loan sharks and signpost victims to the support outlets available.

"Loan sharks are notorious for preying on vulnerable people in financial hardship.

"They charge exorbitant interest rates and use threats and intimidation to enforce their illegal debts."

Lynda McWilliams, Tendring Council cabinet member for community safety, said tackling the issue of loan sharks is important to us as one of our priorities is supporting the vulnerable in our communities.

She said: “We are keen to prevent these unscrupulous people from preying on those struggling to make ends meet, and raising awareness is a key way of stopping people from falling into a vicious downward spiral of debt caused by illegal money lending.

“We also have a role to play as a social housing provider, and that is why I am delighted to be supporting this initiative and to sign Tendring Council up to the charter, pledging zero tolerance on loan sharks.”

Residents can get free advice on a range of issues including housing, benefits and welfare at drop-in sessions held by Citizens Advice at Harwich Job Centre.

Sessions are held on Monday and Tuesday between 9.30am and 12.30pm.

To report a loan shark call the confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, visit stoploansharks.co.uk or email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk.