Free Call blockers for vulnerable residents

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People who receive regular nuisance sales calls could soon benefit from a free call blocking device fitted to their telephones as part of a national scheme.

With research by Age UK showing that elderly residents are at an increasing risk of telephone scams, Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team is urging more people with elderly and vulnerable family members to consider the system.

The devices block recorded telephone messages, silent calls and numbers not already pre-identified by the resident or their families.

In a previous scheme, devices were fitted in six Staffordshire households, preventing over 700 nuisance calls and at least 1 scam. Results also showed that Staffordshire residents were receiving 1.5 times the national average nuisance calls each month.

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said:

“Nuisance sales calls are a growing concern for our Trading Standards team and unfortunately over the past few months with Coronavirus we’ve seen an increase in the number of scams.

“Criminals and scammers are becoming much more sophisticated and professional these days But using the call blocker device is a simple way of cutting out most nuisance calls. This not only helps protect vulnerable older people from being caught up in a scam but also gives their families piece of mind. If you have elderly family members who receive these types of cold calls, I would encourage you to get in touch with the ‘Friends against scams’ team.”

Because of the Coronavirus restrictions still in place, engineers are unable to visit people’s homes to install the devices, so people must be able to install the unit themselves. People can apply online from 8 July at www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk/callblocker. Devices are being made available on a first come first serve basis and will be posted out to successful applicants.

The project, which is being co-ordinated by the National Trading Standards Scams Team and supported by local Trading Standards departments, is the latest of a series of Government crackdowns on nuisance callers.

A trial scheme resulted in 93 per cent of participants feeling safer in their homes with devices currently being installed in 1,500 homes nationally.