A MAJOR crackdown on cold calls is being led by trading standards to help those Dudley borough residents most at risk of being targeted by financial criminals.

A new scams unit has been set up by Dudley Council’s team, primarily working with vulnerable residents who often find themselves on so called ‘sucker lists’ which are used by scammers to identify and prey on their victims.

As part of its work trading standards 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.

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, staff have visited more than 50 residents who have been targeted by scammers – recovering more than £17,000 for victims, as well as investigating cases that amount to at least £350,000 in losses.

And evidence shows that within a three month period, the cold calling stops and the person essentially disappears from the ‘sucker lists’.

People who regularly receive cold calls can also register for free with the Telephone Preference Service at www.tpsonine.org.uk to help prevent unsolicited sales and marketing calls.

While those who are concerned they – or someone they know – may have fallen victim to financial scams, should contact the Trading Standards’ scams team on 01384 818871 or by emailing trading.standards@dudley.gov.uk.