There has been a noticeable increase in reports of older people being targeted by cold calls about personal alarms. These alarms, typically medical pendants or wristbands used to alert emergency services at the push of a button, are being aggressively marketed in a manner similar to predatory cold callers pushing useless white goods and appliance repair cover.

 How These Cold Callers Operate

Understanding the tactics used by these cold callers can help you protect yourself and your loved ones. Here’s what you need to know:

·  Personal Information: Cold callers may already have access to your name, age, and even details about your medical conditions. This knowledge can make their calls seem more legitimate.

·  False Offers: A common tactic is to offer a free alarm, but then ask for card details to cover subscription costs or a one-time installation fee.

·  Impersonation: Some callers may falsely claim to be local health workers or representatives from registered health charities, the NHS, or medical researchers. They might say they’re offering a free alarm pendant due to your health conditions.Harassment and Misleading Claims

Many elderly individuals report feeling harassed or misled by these callers. They often claim to be associated with legitimate companies that provide medical pendants, offering supposed upgrades or replacements, especially with the upcoming switch to digital phone lines by 2025.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has received numerous complaints to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) about these medical alarm calls. There are significant concerns that some callers are using deceptive practices to harvest personal and medical data.

How to Protect Yourself and Beat Cold Callers

To safeguard yourself or your vulnerable friends and family from these intrusive and potentially harmful calls, consider the following steps:

1.      If you do not recognise the phone number do not answer: If it is important they will leave a message and you can check if it is genuine before calling back.

2.      Call-Blocking Solutions: Contact your telephone network provider to see what call-blocking solutions are available.

3.      Register with TPS: Register your landline and mobile numbers with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) for free. If marketing firms breach this, report them.

4.      Report Nuisance Calls: Report nuisance calls, spam texts, and TPS breaches to the Information Commissioner’s Office using its online reporting tool.

5.      Subject Access Request: Send the company a subject access request via email, asking for copies of your data and proof of consent to contact you. The company must respond within one month.

6.      Refer to Action Fraud: If you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud. For broader concerns about a company’s practices, refer to Trading Standards.

7.      Consider a Call Blocker: Check Trading Standards recommendations for call blocker machines that can help filter out unwanted calls.

By staying informed and taking these proactive steps, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the deceptive practices of cold callers targeting older people about personal alarms. Stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040 The image(s) were created by me, Damian Cranny, using artificial intelligence technology. I hereby grant full permission for the image(s) to be used and published along with the associated message(s) in their original context. Please inform me of the specific media outlet(s) in which you have published the image(s).