Computer hacker with mobile phone by Brian Jackson

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has teamed up with Age UK by funding the purchase of specialist telephones which prevent scam callers from connecting to potentially vulnerable individuals and in turn, preventing fraudsters from deceiving older people out of money via telephone scams.

The OPCC has provided Age UK with £20,000 to purchase the specialist devices, which have an inbuilt scam calling blocker. These prevent known incoming scam numbers from being able to connect to the client’s home telephone number.

Karen Perry, chief executive officer for Age UK Bedfordshire, said

“These devices look exactly the same as a normal telephone and just simply plug into the telephone socket in the home in the usual way.

“They will protect older people from receiving calls from those who would seek to appear to be a bank or credit card company or other company that an older person may believe is a dedicated caller.

“In turn, this will help to prevent the older person from being duped into paying money over the telephone, or giving important personal details to the scam caller who will then use that information to steal money or another criminal act.”

Age UK teamed with Safer Streets and the Bobby Scheme through the OPCC, who will be distributing and fitting 500 phones to elderly residents across Bedfordshire.

OPCC chief executive, Clare Kelly, said:

“When I pitched this idea to Age UK I was so pleased they were open to working with us as they have exactly the right skill set and knowledge to ensure the correct item was purchased and delivered in a suitable and safe way for our elderly residents.

“This year has shown us both the best and worst in humanity, where there is strength and hope in volunteers supporting charities with the Covid-19 response, we sadly also see the direct opposite approach of opportunist criminals who have used this situation to target our vulnerable loved ones.

“I am proud that my office has been able to make this idea a reality and hope this work goes towards preventing our elders from becoming victims of this highly impactive crime.”

Any older person who is deemed vulnerable or has been a victim of a scam of any description can apply for one of the scam blocking telephones.

Referral to Age UK Bedfordshire can be made by telephoning 01234 360510 or emailing enquiries@ageukbedfordshire.org.uk and asking about the Scam Blocking Telephones.

Phone scams are a common way for criminals to con people out of money. Be aware of some of the most common phone scams. See the Age UK website to find out what you can do to stay safe.