Trading standards officers in Lancashire are warning people not to borrow money from loan sharks as the recession tightens its grip.
Jim Potts, chief trading standards officer, says people may be tempted by illegal money lenders' offers.
They charge very high levels of interest and often use intimidation.
It is estimated that more than 3,000 people in Lancashire owe money to loan sharks and 14,000 people in the county do not have access to a bank account.
Lancashire County Council held a loan shark awareness event at police headquarters in Hutton, to bring together organisations who help victims.
'Threats and violence'
They included police, Citizens' Advice Bureau and credit unions.
Mr Potts said: "People may be tempted to turn to illegal money lenders for quick loans who then use dubious tactics to keep people in their grasp.
"Some will use threats, intimidation and violence.
"This event sends a clear message that these agencies stand together to not only investigate and prosecute loan sharks, but to also provide assistance and support to their victims."