Free call blocking device to protect older people against scammers

This month (June) is Scams Awareness Month – a yearly campaign led by Citizen’s Advice Bureau to educate people about the current scams including tips on how to spot fraud. CAB’s latest study shows that half of all Scots who are targeted by scams are over the age of 65 and of those affected, 61% were scammed via their landline.

Laura Jamieson from Trading Standards Scotland highlights new free call blocking device available to Scots aged 50 years and older that can help them limit nuisance calls.

Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) obtained funding from the Scottish Government for the provision of call blocking devices, which are allocated to older and vulnerable people in Scotland.

Nuisance calls, and more specifically scam calls, can greatly increase the risk of financial harm. Scam calls, offering lucrative returns on investments including fine wine and precious jewels, are designed to dupe consumers into parting with large sums of cash. Call blocking technology can prevent these getting through in the first place.

In addition, doorstep criminals are beginning to move into cold calling potential victims prior to turning up on their doorstep. Call blocking technology can help prevent the initial call getting through in the first place, preventing a later visit at the door where in some cases, victims have lost thousands of pounds.  This all helps to reduce fear of crime and the fear that someone is watching their home, which can be compounded if a cold call is indeed followed up with a visit.

With all of the above in mind, the technology can also reduce the need for affected individuals to move into residential care. Pressure to do so can stem from family members simply being too worried that the individual is no longer able to look after themselves, either as a result of being scammed or as they have experienced too many accidents.

The findings from the TSS call blocking project, which concluded in August 2015 demonstrated that on average older and vulnerable people in Scotland receive 60 nuisance and scam calls per month. This is around 58% of all the calls they receive. During the course of the study, 95% of the nuisance calls were blocked using the device, which is easy to install.

The call blocking device undeniably has a benefit to the well-being of vulnerable residents and their carers. People involved in the study, their families and their professional carers reported the benefits of having the device included:

  • people are able to live independently for longer;
  • the risk of financial harm was significantly reduced;
  • the risk of trips, falls and distraction accidents were reduced;
  • anxiety and stress was minimised for the study participants as well as their families and carers;
  • those living alone felt safer and more in control.

If you or someone you know would benefit from having a call blocker installed, contact Laura Jamieson on laura@cosla.gov.uk

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Being aware of Scams

June 2018 is Scams Awareness Month – an annual opportunity to raise awareness of and tackle these cruel crimes. We hear from Emily Liddle, Campaigns Officer at Citizens Advice Scotland about what to look out for.


Spam emails, cold callers and suspicious activity alerts from your bank; unfortunately, scams and fraud seem to have become a part of our daily lives.

We want to reduce the risk and impact of scams by raising awareness and encouraging people to take action – recognising, reporting and talking about the issues.

Although anyone can be victim to a scam, there are certain groups in society that are more frequently targeted by scammers. Whether this is a young person being targeted via a social media pop-up tying them into a subscription trap or an older person who receives an unexpected visit on their doorstep from a trusted provider without credentials.

Scams aren’t just a minor inconvenience to people. Aside from financial loss, they can cause distress, misery and even if a scam has been avoided, it can lead to widespread loss of confidence.

Reporting a Crime

Underreporting and stigma continue to be barriers in scams and fraud. There are so many types of scams, with new scam tactics consistently emerging and tricking consumers; as well as scams that we don’t know about which makes it very difficult to help, prevent and support those who have fallen victim.

Whilst scammers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, groups of people continue to believe they would never fall victim, feeling they could easily spot a scam, or know how to act. It is this sense of confidence that scammers target and makes people vulnerable.

 

What should you look out for?

  • Beware of offers that use persuasive language to sell you a ‘once in a lifetime’ deal.
  • Be cautious providing bank details and personal information over the phone, especially if the caller has called to speak to you from an unknown number.
  • Always ask cold callers on your doorstep to provide credentials, don’t be afraid to check ID thoroughly. Never be afraid to say ‘no thank you’ and close the door.
  • Be wary of emails asking you to provide personal information or to login to an online site.
  • Look out for deals you click online that take you to separate website, is this site secure? Look for a small padlock symbol next to the address bar – this indicates the site is secure.

What should you do if you have been a scams target?

If you think you have been a victim of a scam or suspected scam, don’t be embarrassed. A scam could happen to anyone.

  • Get advice: from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 who can pass details on to Trading Standards.
  • Report: always report scams or suspected scams to Police Scotland on 101
  • Tell: friends, neighbours and relatives of any scams you become aware of
  • Go online: for advice on spotting, reporting and protecting yourself against scams: visit citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/sam2018/

• • 75 is the average age of reported scams victims• Those over-70 have the highest reported detriment from a number of different types of scams • A third of all victims (1)

Scams Awareness Month is a campaign run by Citizens Advice Scotland in partnership with a number of partner consumer organisations such as Trading Standards Scotland, Citizens Advice, Advertising Standards Agency and Government.