The warning has come from Just Credit Union, Shropshire’s not-for-profit savings and loan co-operative.
The credit union's business development officer Steve Barras said: “Just Credit Union works closely with the illegal money lending team to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks and we are keen to support their latest drive to raise awareness.
“More people may be under increasing financial pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic and loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable.
"We urge residents to remain vigilant and watch out for illegal money lenders trying to take advantage during these difficult times."
He said loan sharks charge extortionate interest rates and often intimidate, threaten and trap vulnerable victims in a cycle of fear and violence.
Mr Barras said these criminals may seem friendly at first, but borrowing from them could have serious consequences for individuals and families.
The Government-funded England illegal money lending team has the power to investigate and prosecute loan sharks.
Since 2004 the team has helped more than 29,000 people escape the misery of loan sharks.
It has also prosecuted nearly 400 loan sharks and written off more than £75 million worth of illegal debt.
Tony Quigley, head of the England illegal money lending team, said: “If you are struggling for financial help then credit unions offer a safe and easy place to turn to for support.
“You can also get help and discuss your options with organisations like Citizens Advice, StepChange and the Money Advice Service.”
Mr Barras added: “We have recently made changes to how we operate so that Just Credit Union can continue to offer affordable loans and secure savings to anyone who lives or works in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.
"Residents can find out more and apply on line at www.justcreditunion.org
“If you, a friend or family member may have already borrowed money from an illegal money lender the illegal money lending team can be contacted in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or report online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk.
“The helpline service remains open 24 hours a day and staff are continuing to provide specialist information and support for victims.
"You can report a loan shark to them in full confidence and completely anonymously.”