Cold calling to be banned in bid to fight financial fraudsters

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A new law will ban cold calls in a bid to prevent scammers from stealing £7 billion a year

The UK is set to ban cold calls in a bid to hunt down fraudulent salespeople. Around 400 investigators will be hired to find financial fraudsters, who currently scam Brits out of around £7 billion a year.

A cold call is when salespeople or scammers phone someone without their consent in order to sell or trick people into buying products or services. The new law will see a blanket ban on both legitimate and fraudulent cold calls rolled out.

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“Fraud now accounts for over 40% of crime. It costs us nearly £7 billion a year and we know these proceeds are funding organised crime and terror. What’s more, new technologies are making these scams easier to do and harder to police,” the government said

Ofcom will be helping crack down on cold calls by providing tech to stop people from impersonating legitimate businesses such as telephone companies and banks. The government is now launching a consultation to work out exactly what products the ban will cover.

“Scammers ruin lives in seconds, deceiving people in the most despicable ways in order to line their pockets,” prime minister Rishi Sinak said. “The time has come to put the fraudsters out of business. And that’s what I’m determined to do.”

With new technology, he said, the government will stop scammers by outlawing so-called “SIM farms”, a device that allows people to send out thousands of messages at the same time. They will also stop more cases of number spoofing, which is when fraudsters impersonate UK numbers in order to pretend they’re calling from a legitimate business.

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The ban will also include all calls on financial products, which means anyone receiving calls trying to sell products such as cryptocurrency or insurance will know it’s a scam. In order to catch fraudsters, the government will use MI6 resources as well as overseas agencies.

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While the opposition and consumer rights watchdog Which? said they welcome the new law, they also branded it“too little, too late”.. Rocio Concha, the director of policy and advocacy at Which?, said: “The fight against fraud has progressed far too slowly in recent years and in particular, more action is needed to guarantee that big tech platforms take serious action against fraud.

The ban will include all calls on financial products, which means anyone receiving calls trying to sell products such as cryptocurrency or insurance will know it’s a scam.  (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)The ban will include all calls on financial products, which means anyone receiving calls trying to sell products such as cryptocurrency or insurance will know it’s a scam.  (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
The ban will include all calls on financial products, which means anyone receiving calls trying to sell products such as cryptocurrency or insurance will know it’s a scam. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

“It’s positive to see the government at last producing a strategy that recognises a joined-up approach with the ambition that data is shared between industry and law enforcement is needed to tackle the UK’s fraud epidemic, which has such a devastating financial and emotional toll on the lives of victims.”

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