MK Council said it was working in partnership with the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and Thames Valley Police (TVP) to raise awareness of illegal loan sharks in the city.
Council colleagues and partners discussed with the people of MK this week the dangers of getting involved with loan sharks.
The campaign aims to encourage people to avoid using loan sharks and to report the crime if they have been victimized. It also aims to educate people about the help available if they are struggling with debt and safer ways to borrow money.
Last month, TVP made two arrests in MK on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering.
Persistent economic uncertainty during the pandemic and many people threatened with layoff means loan sharks may seek to take advantage of people in vulnerable situations who feel they have nowhere to turn for help.
Tony Quigley, Head of IMLT, said: “This crime is having a devastating impact on people’s lives and we hope that by raising awareness of the problem residents can spot a loan shark and get help and support. ‘they were bitten. .
“We always encourage people to report any concerns about illegal money lending to us. The hotline is open 24 hours a day and you will find a lot of useful support information on our website.
Cllr Lauren Townsend said: “Borrowing money from these people who seek to exploit people in vulnerable situations can have life-threatening consequences. I encourage all those who are in debt or who are victims of it to contact us as soon as possible.
“My thanks go to fellow council members and partners for the work they do to educate and drive out illegal loan sharks who only cause misery to our residents. “
IMLT has launched a new smartphone app to make it faster and easier for people to report loan sharks and access support services.
The Stop Loan Sharks app includes a contact form and phone number to report loan sharks, as well as information to help victims of illegal cash loans get help.
It also offers users advice on tell-tale signs that someone is a loan shark. These include offering cash loans without any paperwork, charging exorbitant interest, using benefits or bank cards as collateral, and threatening or being violent to get money.
The IMLT has obtained more than 400 lawsuits for illegal money lending and related activities, leading to 586 years in prison. They have written off £ 83million in illegal debt and helped over 30,000 people.
For more information on Swan Community Bank, call 0303 030 0147 or visit their website www.swancommunitybank.org.uk.
To report a loan shark, call the confidential 24/7 hotline on 0300 555 2222, text a report on 078 600 22116 or complete a secure online form. Live chat is available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday at www.stoploansharks.co.uk.