Wirral Trading Standards have organised a special awareness-raising week - "Love Your Community, Hate Loan Sharks" - to highlight the dangers of turning to illegal money lenders to borrow cash.

The events are being held in partnership with the local England Illegal Money Lending Team, who work with Wirral Council to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from lenders operating illegally.

The week includes two ‘drop in’ sessions open to the general public at Asda, Grange Road, Birkenhead, on Tuesday, February 11, and St Catherine’s Hospital, Church Road, Birkenhead, on Wednesday, February 12. Both take place from 9am to 4pm.

Councillor Brian Kenny, cabinet member for the environment, said: "People at this time of year may be feeling the effects of overspending over Christmas and may consider going to illegal money lenders.

"Make no mistake; loan sharks may seem helpful at first, but will trap borrowers into spiralling levels of debt by adding extra amounts and interest charges, and can resort to violence and intimidation to get their money back."

He said anyone affected by a loan shark should ring the Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222.’

The Stop Loan Shark team can also be alerted by emailing reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or on Facebook via facebook.com/stoploansharksproject.

As the Illegal Money Lending Team work closely with local housing teams, you can also inform your local housing officer if you wish to report loan shark activity.