Dudley Council has won a national award in recognition of its efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of using loan sharks.
The local authority has been recognised by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) for its initiatives tackling loan sharks and making communities safer.
The council now has Partner Recognition accreditation.
The new accreditation programme recognises how the council works alongside IMLT to raise awareness of loan sharks, and their impact on local communities, and to create safer spaces for people to live and work.
The council has supported staff and directed partners to training and carried out regular communications and campaigns with residents and partners to raise awareness of loan sharks and how to report them.
Loan sharks are increasingly using social media platforms to advertise their illegal loans and target potential victims.
Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member responsible for community safety, said:
I welcome this award. It recognises our commitment to putting a stop to loan sharks and their underhand tactics to exploit people across our borough. They can ruin lives, and this is unacceptable.
Our job is to help people understand there are alternatives and safe companies to lend from and under no circumstances should people need to turn to a loan shark.
Tony Quigley, Head of England Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
We would like to congratulate Dudley Council on their partner recognition award and thank them for their outstanding efforts tackling loan sharks.
We are extremely grateful for the support of our partners across the country and rely on them to act as our eyes and ears in communities. By working together, we can stamp out illegal money lending and protect residents from this awful crime.
We continue to encourage people to come forward if they know of or have been a victim of loan sharks. You are not alone and we will support you.
If someone or anyone they know has been affected by an illegal lender, they can access specialist advice and support by contacting the Stop Loan Sharks 24-hour confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222, email email@example.com or complete an online report form at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.