The power to block cold calls from scammers is in the hands of Dudley residents most at risk of being targeted by financial criminals.
As part of a major crackdown to wipe out financial scamming in Dudley borough, a new scams unit has been set up by Dudley Council’s Trading Standards.
It is primarily working with vulnerable residents who often find themselves on so called ‘sucker lists’ which are used by financial criminals to identify and prey on their victims.
As part of its work the team is going into homes of vulnerable people who regularly receive cold calls from scammers and installing call blockers temporarily.
This means that every time a call is received, the resident can press a big red button and that number is blocked and unable to call again. Evidence shows that within a three month period, the cold calling stops and the person essentially disappears from the ‘sucker lists’.
Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said:
Financial scammers cold call older and vulnerable residents who are often lonely and welcome the attention and friendship offered by these criminals in pretence. Our scams unit is dedicating the work they do to put a stop to this and wipe out financial scamming in the borough full stop.
It’s a big job but with incentives such as call blockers, we are helping to prevent older people being targeted. Since the scams unit launched more than five months ago, its staff have already visited more than fifty residents who have been targeted by scammers. It has recovered more than £17,000 for victims and is investigating cases that amount to at least £350,000 in losses.
As part of its remit, the team is working closely with social services to refer people who would benefit from some support, whether that is attending local groups and activities or receiving care in the home, to prevent them becoming lonely and isolated.
People who regularly receive cold calls can register for free with the Telephone Preference Service. This allows them to opt out on the official register and prevent unsolicited sales and marketing calls. This service can be accessed at www.tpsonine.org.uk. Many telephone service providers now also provide call blocking facilities.