/ Technology

Could more be done to protect the most vulnerable from nuisance callers?

Cold callers

The government has committed to funding 1,500 call blockers for the most vulnerable in society – particularly those suffering with dementia. While this is great news, could more be done to protect the most vulnerable from this modern-day menace?

The Prime Minister announced that £500,000 is to be allocated to a project to install trueCall devices into the homes of elderly and vulnerable people. Working with doctors, trading standards officials and councils, 1,500 most at risk people, particularly those with dementia, will receive a call-blocking device.

Protecting vulnerable people

Many of you will know the irritation that nuisance callers can cause; an irritation which can be especially disturbing and distressing for elderly and vulnerable people, and downright dangerous when those callers are in fact scammers.

The fact of the matter is that scammers are cunning at tricking many people into handing over money and personal details. While anyone can fall victim to a scam, scammers do target older and vulnerable people.

Call-blocking devices can screen calls and either ask callers to enter a security code or direct them to call a friend or relative of the home owner.

But with only 1,500 of these devices being issued to the most at risk, what about everyone else?

After all, I’m sure there will be a number of you who will know a friend, neighbour or relative who could benefit from some sort of safeguard in place to prevent nuisance callers or scammers from calling them.

Well, in addition to the devices, the project funding also includes £200,000 for a public awareness-raising campaign – which again is good, but alone will not be enough to protect people from these calls.

Nuisance calls

As many of you will know, we’ve been campaigning for a crackdown on nuisance calls and texts. In October last year, we welcomed the government’s decision to hold directors of nuisance-calling firms personally accountable, facing a fine of up to £500,000 if their firm is found to be making them – but we’re still waiting for this to be introduced.

Since the start of our campaign, we’ve seen more and more fines being issued by the regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), with more than ever being issued in the past year alone.

But the new rules targeting company directors should have a much bigger impact and bring an end to the practice of rogue bosses flouting the rules by closing one business only to set another under new credentials to dodge ICO fines.

So while it’s welcoming to see the government funding call-blocking devices to protect the most vulnerable from nuisance callers, we need it to bring in it’s promised action to hold directors personally accountable and cut these calls at source as soon as possible.

What do you think to this announcement from the government? What more do you think is needed to crackdown on nuisance callers?


I block my calls verbally – Have I really had an accident? Sorry got no money. Busy cooking…….etc.

I have an ex directory number, I am logged with the telephone preference service and I have an answerphone message which tells the caller that I do not take unsolicited telephone calls; I do not purchase goods over the telephone and if they are a genuine caller please leave a message and I will return the call later. Also if they are not a genuine caller under the terms and conditions of the Data Protection Act would they remove my number from their list and also from their data base – and still I get calls – one morning 3 calls before 7.30 am in the morning! Who gives out these numbers? Is someone or some company who has access to personal telephone numbers being paid to give them out? If this is the case the Government Watch Dog should be penalising these companies from doing this. My husband and I are both pensioners and my husband is very deaf in both ears so it is particularly annoying. (I also have caller display and no matter how many times I disconnect unknown callers they still call back – it’s very annoying do they think we are stupid when they call with an English sounding name and a very thick foreign accent which cannot be understood if you accidentially pick up the ‘phone (I need my glasses to see the number)).

I think people should be able to dial a code like 333 whenever a nuisance caller calls and that this code should automatically have the callers details logged by the Telco provider. Regular analysis by the Telco Providers of all 333 triggered call logs would help to identify patterns of unwanted calls and then maybe warnings could be sent to the relevant parties. Followed by fines if they persistently break the rules.

Maggie says:
17 April 2017

Excellent idea but fines should be minimum £1M, end of. We are too lenient as usual !

I think that call blockers are a waste of time, the people that really need them are unable to use them because of the technology involved. The people that can use them don’t really need them. it’s a catch 22.
I think that this is a case of follow the money and the data. Companies that sell and pass on personal details should be prosecuted. Similarity, companies that are involved in and profit from cold calling should similarly be prosecuted. Directors and ‘controlling minds’ of such companies should be held personally liable.
I recognise that many of the calls emanate from abroad and are effectively not covered by UK law, however somebody in the UK must be supplying the data and profiting from the operation of such foreign based companies. Call blocking is mere symptom relief, it does not address the root cause; prosecute those that profit from the practice

I do not believe the government and Ofcom assurances. If they had acted as they have often claimed over the last few years – why are the scammers still in business and still annoying so many of us? We PAY all these public employees handsomely to defend our rights and to prevent rogue trading and nuisance. But it still goes on and on because there is no meaningful attempt to stamp out rogue “businesses”. It is high time the people we employ started seriously addressing the issues of what I believe are illegal calls by illegal business operators. It must now (with all the freedom to monitor rights we have been forced to accept) to do as others have suggested here and give us the technical means to quickly refer a rogue call er to a monitoring point which could log their activity an d quickly flag up the source of the callers for further action. New standards need to also be set for anyone wishing to set up a genuine business. Anyone operating what is plainly an unfair or rogue business should be shut down and the operators prosecuted. That includes the so called lawyers in Birmingham area who keep harassing us over an “accident” we know nothing about and all those claiming to be BT, Microsoft, other computer specialists and PPI miss-sold “lawyers” who keep attempting to involve us in their scams. More power to the elbow of the which campaign for some real action and not just feather dusting a serious problem.

What about overseas calls beyond our jurisdiction? Just like online gambling, tax havens, this is also where “rogue” businesses will work from. How do we deal with those?

Mike C says:
18 April 2017

Here’s a good one that worked – Some years ago a company kept calling to speak to someone who didn’t live at my address. they would not beleive that. Persistent isn’t the word some times several times a day, often unanswered. Sometimes I was caught out in the wrong room (no caller display) when expecting a different call. I knew who they were – number was displayed.
One day I cracked. I answered the call and we had a discussion. The gentleman was left in know doubt that I was not best pleased. I asked if the call was being recorded. It was. I told him to note the date and time as I was doing and I was recording the conversation. I told him to listen to my terms and condition.
I said that my terms and condition are – every time I answer a call from that particular company I will log the call and charge that company £45 per call (?it seemed like a good number)and I will bill you each month. I could see a pension here. He said “I can’t authorise that sir.” I said “you don’t have to authorise it, ringing my number is an acceptance of my terms and conditions. Good day and I hope to hear from tomorrow.”
They have not rang me since.
Sadly that doesn’t work with a recorded message or a silent call.
As well as a fine the director should personably be made to provide call blocking devices to all who complain. But then that would mean the annonymous government doing something. So that idea will come about the day after the pig flypast.

They are very annoying and a complete waste of time I have a whistle and give a quick

Mrs Deirdre Mulley says:
24 April 2017

Can’t be soon enough. It’s a scandal that some of these callers can get hold of phone numbers for THEIR phones that look like legitimate London and outer London ones.

Moira Fraser says:
24 April 2017

I think this an excellent, proactive idea.

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On the previous page, William drew attention to the fact that the government is spending £500,000 on a mere 1,500 call blockers. Even though there will costs involved in deciding who should receive one, this seems very poor value for money.

Which? has drawn our attention to the possibility of ‘up to’ £500,000 fines for directors of companies found to be making nuisance calls. I wonder how many directors have been fined.

I still maintain that the effort should be to provide a central call blocking system that can used by all subscribers and updated as necessary. Central services include caller display and a variety of other services that are listed in phone directories and websites.

I note that some on here do not believe our data is given out by local authorities and even BT. It is.The electoral register is definitely marketed, in case you have not realised there is a note if you want to be included on the open register when you sign up each year so make sure not to allow that.BT also market access to telephone numbers unless you opt to be ex-directory. As others have said DO NOT give your phone number to anyone unless they specifically need to get back to you and then spell out that is absolutely not to used for marketing or you will make a complaint.
I was contacted by my local conservative party during the election campaign and I am fuming as to how they obtained my number as I have been Ex-directory for over 45 years and never been involved with them in any way.

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How to stop nuisance. Use BT’s 1572 free service to block any further calls from the number that called you last. Invest in a BT 8500. This can be bought with 1 or 2 handsets. You put all numbers you don’t mind ringing you into your BT 8500. If someone calls you not in your allowed calls, your phone will ring once very quietly and announce “Calls to this number are being screened by BT Call Guardian, please say your name and press the # key.” You then have there options 1=allow call once, 2 = allow all calls from this number, 3 =send call to answerphone. I have had 2 of these cordless BT 8500 hand sets for nearly two years, and since buying have had zero nuisance calls. I bought two handsets for £49.99
from Amazon. However, BT are doing some price cuts on these phones at present, so shop around.

I bought these nearly two years ago and have never had a nuisance call since. Make sure you’re registered with Phone Preferences Service, they tell major companies not to call you. This service is also available for mobiles both landlines and mobiles are registered for free.

A phone call I got yesterday displayed on my mobile very similar to this:

Sure enough, it was someone selling insulation and that number is now blocked.

I don’t know if it is only Samsung that do this, but it is something that could be developed for all phones and also calls originating abroad where the source is suspect.

Alfa – I agree that this would be useful but think it would be better implemented by service providers rather than on each phone, so that updates can be made when necessary.

For some reason I have avoided nuisance calls on my mobile even though I have have had the same number for many years.

A ban on all cold calling with a prison sentence not a fine for all who do cold call