Nuisance phone calls pose a significant problem for older and vulnerable adults in the UK. As well as causing undue stress and leaving millions afraid to pick up their phone, unwanted calls can result in vulnerable people taking ill-advised decisions about their home, their life and finances.

Trading Standards Scotland have been running an innovative trial of call blocking technology, distributing devices to over 500 older and vulnerable consumers, assessing its effectiveness and gathering intelligence about the scale of the nuisance call problems in Scotland. This information will be used to inform future policy in this area.

The project ended in July 2015 and the results show;

  • Vulnerable Scottish residents currently receive an average of 60 calls per month – two nuisance calls per day. This has increased from 26 per month during the 30 months of the project – an annual increase of 39%
  • 10% of trialists received on average 100 or more nuisance calls per month
  • 58% of all incoming calls received by trialists were nuisance calls
  • Callers appear to target those who are especially vulnerable
  • 234,411 nuisance calls were received during the study, of which 233,334 were blocked
  • The calls came from a variety of sources selling a diverse range of products and services – but the most active call centres appeared to only call those living in Scotland and were promoting a boiler scrappage scheme
  • 32% of the nuisance calls appear to have come from international call centres
  • Scottish households are receiving more nuisance calls than English households
  • In East Renfrewshire three carers have said that the reduction in nuisance and scam calls has allowed their relative to live independently for at least an additional year

Nuisance calls are taken very seriously in Scotland and local authorities have implemented a number of initiatives in this area. This project protected 541 older and vulnerable adults. It is estimated that between 110,000 and 413,000 people in Scotland are vulnerable and seriously inconvenienced by nuisance phone calls on a regular basis. The results of this trial suggest that they could all benefit from nuisance call blocking technology.

Funding is now being sought for a roll out of this project to protect more vulnerable people across Scotland.

Vulnerable Scottish adults currently receive an average of 60 nuisance calls a month - 2 per day

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