UK to ban all cold calls promoting financial products

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To stop fraudsters from selling fraudulent insurance products or cryptocurrency schemes, unsolicited calls offering financial products will be banned.

Will now be formed a new fraud squad with 120 to 500 personnel. 

But Labor and the Liberal Democrats have branded the plan “too little, too late”.

In the UK, fraud has become the most prevalent crime, affecting one in every 15 individuals.

According to Ofcom, the media regulator, 41 million people received suspicious calls and texts last summer. However, the data suggests that most fraud now has an online component.

The Government said a blanket ban on cold calls selling financial products would also cover legitimate calls.

This would mean that “anyone receiving a call trying to sell a product such as a cryptocurrency scheme or insurance would know it was a scam”, it said.

The specific financial products affected by the upcoming ban are still being negotiated, but it is anticipated to take effect this summer.

In addition, the Government stated:

  • Using SIM cards to send large quantities of text messages, also known as “SIM farms,” will be prohibited.
  • The intelligence services and police will collaborate with international partners to close down call centres engaged in fraudulent activities.
  • Advertising campaigns will make people aware of the risks associated with scam calls.
  • We will implement new measures to prevent phone number “spoofing,” when scammers alter caller ID information to make their calls seem legitimate.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the new rules deal with “cold-hearted” fraudsters who “destroy lives in seconds.”

He said the scams fund “organized crime and terrorism.”

‘too little, too late

Emily Thornberry, the shadow attorney general of the Labor Party, criticized the plans for disregarding the billions of dollars lost to fraud committed against businesses and the Government. She also pointed out that the estimates provided for the cost of fraud to the public are outdated, dating back seven years.

Labour said the Government had “repeatedly” left out fraud in crime statistics and had “no interest in bringing fraudsters to justice”.

The SNP’s technology spokeswoman Carol Monaghan said the Government was “slow to protect vulnerable people”.

The speaker expressed concern that scam artists frequently target pensioners, and the consequences can be severe. The speaker also stated that they must revise the Government’s plans and funding to address this issue.

According to Alastair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman, the new fraud squad is inadequate to protect fraud victims, as there was only one new investigator for every 9,000 cases last year, which is just a tiny fraction of what is required.

“These plans will further burden local police forces already stretched thin.”

Which consumer groups? While welcoming the strategy, he criticized the Government for not acting quickly.

“Further steps are needed to ensure that major technology platforms take serious action against fraud,” it added.

The Government says that fraud costs the UK around £7bn annually and that around 90% of internet users have experienced online scams.

According to a spokeswoman from the Home Office, the Government has allocated £400 million towards combating economic crime in the most recent spending review, with £100 million designated explicitly for addressing fraud.

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Marta Lopez

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By Marta Lopez

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