Telephone scammers who target vulnerable and elderly consumers with scams and nuisance telephone calls have been stopped in their tracks, with a National Trading Standards project blocking more than 100,000 unwanted calls in less than a year.
The half-a-million-pound project, announced by Prime Minister Theresa May last April and funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, was coordinated by the National Trading Standards Scams Team and supported by local Trading Standards departments and saw over 99% of unwanted calls blocked over an 11-month period.
Over 1,500 trueCall call blocking devices were provided to potentially vulnerable consumers as part of the project, including consumers with dementia and those deemed to be most at risk of receiving scams and nuisance calls. Members of the public were also invited to apply for call blockers via the Friends Against Scams website – run by National Trading Standards to help people spot and report scams.
Throughout the project, which ran between May 2017 and April 2018, a total of 108,918 calls were blocked. A survey of those who had received the call blocker devices found that three quarters (75%) of participants reported they no longer feel at risk of falling victim to telephone scams.
The trueCall call blocker devices completely block all recorded messages, silent calls and calls from numbers not already pre-identified by the home owner – offering particular protection to those with dementia.
Prior to the project, 79% of participants felt worried by unwanted phone calls and 60% felt threatened or scared about receiving calls. After the blockers were installed, these figures fell to 17% and 10% respectively.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:
“This programme has proved a huge success with more than 100,000 scams and nuisance calls blocked and huge sums of money saved. I am delighted that National Trading Standards has been able to protect some of the society’s most vulnerable people from criminal telephone scammers.”
Louise Baxter from the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said:
“Nuisance calls have a huge impact on the emotional and physical health of people, not to mention the financial losses. This programme has shown the huge difference call blockers can make to people’s lives and that they give them the protection they need, with more than three quarters saying they were no longer worried about falling victim to telephone scams.”
Minister for Digital Margot James said:
“We are determined to end the plague of nuisance calls ruining elderly and vulnerable people's lives.
"It is fantastic to see our funding for this vital Trading Standards scheme help block thousands of unwanted calls.
"We have introduced tough measures to stamp out the practice and only last month laid out further plans to make bosses of rogue companies personally liable for up to £500,000 if their firm breaks the law."
It is estimated that over 5 years the 1,500 call blockers given out as part of the will save consumers and taxpayers over £18 million.
Friends and relatives of elderly and vulnerable participants commented on the programme’s success:
- “I’ve just looked at the dashboard and it’s showing 68 calls have been rejected since it’s (the unit) been installed so that’s amazing! It’s horrible to think my grandad had been putting up with that amount of calls before. He has dementia and an array of health complaints and was getting very stressed and confused on the phone. We caught him giving out all sorts of details on the phone before and was a prime target for fraud. When we speak with him now he doesn’t sound so anxious on the phone.”
- “The call blocker has really helped me as my wife is very ill and it has reduced the nuisance calls that interfere with her care”
Notes to Editors
For more information about this case or for general enquiries about National Trading Standards please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
- For more information please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk
- For more information about the Friends Against Scams campaign please visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk