Trading Standards Scotland officers are urging members of the public to avoid illegal money lenders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team, which is part of COSLA, say loan sharks may look to take advantage of those who have found themselves in a vulnerable position and feel they have nowhere else to turn for help.
Officers are encouraging people to contact official agencies and charities in their time of need instead.
Councillor Kelly Parry, Chair of Trading Standards Scotland and COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, said: “For those in a financial crisis due to COVID-19, a community-based loan shark can seem friendly and accommodating.
“However, they can cause huge misery in the long-term.
“The Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit (SIMLU) is providing 24/7 support and advice to those worried about loan sharks throughout the lockdown period.”
Financial help and advice is available from organisations such as The Scottish Welfare Fund, StepChange Debt Charity, the Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice Scotland.
For more information, visit https://www.tsscot.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/loan-sharks-coronavirus/
You can also report a loan shark by visiting https://www.tsscot.co.uk/illegal-lending/report-a-loan-shark/