A WARNING has been issued about loan sharks who may pray on vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trading Standards Scotland officers, who are part of a team at COSLA, are urging members of the public to avoid illegal money lenders.

The team 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, chairwoman of Trading Standards Scotland and COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Spokeswoman, 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.