Scam targeting vulnerable elderly people
Local users of the council’s pendant scheme for vulnerable adults, Careline Community Service, are being targeted by other companies and fraudsters trying to take their money.
They are taking advantage of the fact that users need to switch to digital technology but instead of switching them to a digital unit from the council, they are switching them to another provider – or just scamming them out of money altogether.
The council’s cabinet member for people and communities, Cllr Jo Rust, said: “These are some of our most vulnerable residents – they have a pendant because they are more likely to need help and might not otherwise be able to call for it.
“Targeting vulnerable people in this way for profit or even theft is a disgrace and we want to raise as much awareness as possible to ensure users of the Careline Community Service are not caught out.”
The council is writing to all users of the service to warn them but it is also trying to raise awareness in the community so that people who may support service users are also aware.
Careline Community Service manager, Judith Berry, added: “This is a difficult situation for our service users. Many of them have older, analogue units, which won’t work within two years. We are halfway through a project to upgrade all the analogue units to digital equipment so we are contacting people to make the switch.
“The problem is that we’re not the only ones making contact. Others are also calling and making people think they are switching to a digital unit when in fact they are switching to another company altogether – or worse still, simply being scammed out of money altogether.”
The council has advised users of the Careline Community Service to be cautious when people call. The council will never ask for money upfront. (The service is paid for, usually through a monthly direct debit, but there is no separate charge for the box.) Members of staff will always clearly identify themselves as calling from Careline Community Service and will be in uniform, and carrying ID, when they visit to switch the unit over. Users can call the council on 01553 616200 if they have any doubts.
The digital switchover is part of a national programme to upgrade all telephone lines to digital by 2025. The council’s pendant service, Careline Community Service, has approximately 3,800 users.