Glenda the Lender and Sid the Shark will be among tools used raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks during a fortnight of action.
At a time when the rising cost of living means families are finding it difficult to make ends meet, housing association Affinity Sutton is warning residents not to turn to illegal lenders.
Loan sharks operate outside the law and rely on intimidation, threats and violence to reclaim money as they cannot legally collect their debts.
A series of competitions and events will take place in February in partnership with the Government’s England Illegal Money Lending Team (EIMLT) and Hertsmere Borough Council to educate people about the alternatives to loan sharks.
Young people can enter a competition to win a tablet by designing a temporary tattoo themed around stopping loan sharks. Entries must be sent to email@example.com by February 14.
Children under the age of 12 are being asked to design a superhero who could fight “nasty criminals who trick people out of their money”.
There will also be information stands and Sid the Shark and Glenda the Lender will also be out and about throughout the week beginningFebruary 17.
Anyone who spots them is encouraged to take a picture on their phones and tweet it @AffinitySutton using the hash tag #StopLoanSharks.
Head of financial inclusion at Affinity Sutton Stephanie Noyce said: “When our residents fall upon hard times the last thing we want them to do is to borrow from a loan shark. These can be highly dangerous individuals who operate without regulation.
“Our Money Matters service offers guidance and support on managing your money as well where to go for debt advice. In addition we have launched a new national banking offer with Leeds City Credit Union, open to all of our residents regardless of where they live, offering low cost and ethical financial products, including loans.”
Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team Tony Quigley urged people who had been the victims of loan sharks to write to call 0300 555 2222.