A week of action is taking place in Biddulph to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team has joined forced with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Staffordshire Police to highlight the issue.
The week of action involves leaflets being distributed to homes and schools, a social media campaign using the hashtag #StandUpToLoanSharks and beer mats being delivered to local pubs.
Last night Biddulph Town councillors signed a charter pledging a zero tolerance approach to loan sharks.
Councillor Mike Bowen, cabinet member for communities at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: "We are pleased to support ‘bite back’ week as loan sharks spell nothing but misery for those who borrow money from them.
"We would strongly advise our residents not to use loan sharks – even as a last resort – but to seek independent financial advice from reputable organisations such at the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Money Advice Service instead."
Sgt Pete Slinn, from Staffordshire Moorlands Local Policing Team, said: "We are seizing this opportunity to work with our partners to raise awareness of loan sharks and the misery they can bring.
"Residents who find themselves in difficult financial situations are encouraged to seek help and support through the right channels."
Tony Quigley, Head of Service for the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: "Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities.
"These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford. Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods.
"We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to report them in confidence on 0300 555 2222, as we can help"