Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Fight-back against nuisance calls

North Ayrshire Council’s Trading Standards Team is pulling the plug on phone scammers who have targeted local people.

Staff acted after receiving a number of complaints from vulnerable residents of local towns regarding being pestered by callers claiming to be from a range of charities, organisations and businesses.  A Council spokesperson explained, “Often telephone crooks will brazenly try to con residents out of their cash and personal details or try to trick them into buying products that they don’t need.

“Swindlers will often pose as legitimate organisations, such as a bank or another official organisation, in an attempt to lend credibility to their scams.  Others will use high-pressure sales-tactics to entice residents to act quickly for fear of missing an alleged opportunity – or alternatively lose money.

“Over the past few months some of the area’s most vulnerable residents have been bombarded with hundreds of unsolicited calls.  One woman who received more than 860 nuisance calls was also conned out of around £4,500.”

As a result, Trading Standards officers have assisted local residents to install a ‘call blocker’, which works to protect people by stopping nuisance calls before the phone even rings, ensuring only trusted calls can get through.

So far, the initiative has had a staggering impact with around 3,800 nuisance calls having been blocked from reaching vulnerable residents living in North Ayrshire.

Scott McKenzie, North Ayrshire Council’s Protective Services Senior Manager, said, “It’s a big problem.  People receive these cold calls every day and it is all just a way of conning people out of money. Those responsible for these types of scams don’t care about the lasting impact their actions could have on their potentially vulnerable victims and will do almost anything to get their hands on their money.

“It is also important to remember that not all calls people receive from telephone scammers are automated.  Some are UK-based calls, some are from overseas and there are even local numbers being used.  Many scammers will simply be given a list of people to call and will be asked to work their way through it.

“Residents should never feel pressured into buying anything over the phone and should never reveal any sensitive information.  Also, if something sounds too good to be true - it probably is.”

Of the ‘call blocker’ scheme, Mr McKenzie noted, “It has totally changed the lives of a number of our residents by making them feel more secure in their own homes.  It is great to see the difference it has had on people in a short space of time.”

Further information on the scheme is available from North Ayrshire Council Trading Standards on 01294 324100.

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