Free call blockers are being made available to people who believe they are being targeted with scam and nuisance phone calls. Between 1,800 and 2,000 call blockers are being provided on a first come, first served basis by the National Trading Standards Scams Team. Local authorities and care providers are expected to apply on behalf of victims – and individual applications from victims or family members will also be available.
The units follow a pilot programme launched in 2017, which saw 99% of scam and nuisance phone calls being blocked. Prior to the pilot, 31% of the 214 individual users in the pilot had lost a combined total of £970,042 to scam and nuisance calls (one individual user lost as much as £320,000). After the pilot, only 1% of users had lost money to scam and nuisance calls.
The pilot also improved victims’ emotional wellbeing. By preventing scam and nuisance calls from reaching users in the first place, the units reduced users’ fears about scam and nuisance calls, and reduced their worries about losing money to these calls in the future, leading to:*
- a 92% reduction in users who felt that they were at risk of being defrauded over the telephone
- an 85% reduction in users who felt helpless to stop scam and nuisance calls
- an 85% reduction in users who felt worried by scam and nuisance calls
- an 83% reduction in users who felt threatened or scared by scam and nuisance calls.
- 78% of users who felt that the call blocker helped prevent them from being defrauded
- Finally, a cost benefit analysis calculation was applied to the project and demonstrated that for every £1 spent, the project saved £36 – a total cost benefit of £18,131,392.
The extension of up to 2,000 call blockers is expected to make a considerable difference to those who receive scam and nuisance phone calls.
Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said:
“The recent pilot demonstrates that these call blockers change lives, so we’re delighted to extend the programme to help even more victims benefit from call blocking technology. The call blockers reduce financial detriment and improve victims’ wellbeing, reducing the very real fear and threats posed by nuisance and scam calls.”
The devices are being provided for free in a scheme funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Minister of State for DCMS Nigel Adams said:
"Nuisance calls are a menace and can cause serious emotional distress, particularly to older and more vulnerable people. By making an extra 2000 call blockers available free of charge I hope that we can continue to stamp out nuisance calls and reduce the anxiety and worry that comes from receiving them."
Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:
“Our pilot showed that these call blockers have a genuine impact on the quality of life and wellbeing of victims. They protect consumers from potential scams, financial loss and emotional distress, so it’s really important that the Government is extending this programme to help even more victims avoid scam and nuisance calls.”
The units supplied are the trueCall Secure call blockers – the same units that were used in the National Trading Standards pilot programme.
Consumers can apply for a free call blocking unit via the Friends Against Scams website where they will be required to complete a short survey. Applications can also be made by partners and stakeholders on behalf of an individual via the same mechanism (once consent has been obtained). To make and application, please visit: www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/callblocker
Notes to Editors
*data from evaluation of 2017 pilot programme
Notes to Editors
About National Trading Standards
- National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally
- The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
- National Trading Standards teams are based within local authority trading standards services
National Trading Standards Scams Team
- The National Trading Standards Scams Team works in partnership with other agencies across the country to identify and support victims of mass marketing fraud.
- The National Trading Standards Scams Team is funded by the National Trading Standards Board to help tackle mass marketing scams.