Financial cold callers banned under crackdown on fraudsters

New anti-scam measures mean people can hang up on anyone trying to sell them a financial product, confident that a fraudster is on the other end of the line.

Cold calls offering financial products will be banned as part of a crackdown on scammers. Once the ban is in force, people who receive an uninvited call inviting them to take out insurance or get involved in crypto currency will automatically know they are the target of a fraudster.

New measures to stop criminals tricking people into buying fake investments will be set out this week.

Ofcom research shows 41 million people were targeted by suspicious calls and texts last summer. Fraud is estimated to cost the country £6.8billion a year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Scammers devastate lives and livelihoods – preying on people’s fears to cheat them out of their money. To clamp down on these crimes, we have to prevent fraudsters infiltrating their way into people’s lives in the first place.

“That’s why we’re stopping scams at source by taking away the routes used to target victims, keeping people safe and shielding them from the criminals.”

Investment fraud is the fastest growing fraud category. UK Finance reported 12,000 cases last year with a loss of more than £170million. The tightening of the rules follows an existing ban on cold calls about pension products.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “Fraudsters are the lowest of the low. They seek to rob people through deception and exploitation, and relentlessly search for new ways to trick people. Banning cold calls and stopping fraudsters using technology is the start in our fightback against these cowards.”

There is concern that new technologies have opened up “new ways for criminals to inflict harm” – with scammers often pretending to be a loved one or from a genuine business.

The plans include measures to stop scam texts, which often appear to be from trusted brands. Examples include fraudsters pretending to be from the Royal Mail asking to rearrange a delivery, or to be from a bank with a request for people to transfer money.

In a bid to stop scammers sending messages to thousands of people simultaneously, a ban on SIM farms – electronic boxes made up of bundles of SIM cards – is proposed. It is hoped this will also make it harder for crime gangs to market drugs.

The measures are part of the new fraud strategy that the Prime Minister and Mrs Braverman will launch this week. 

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