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Nuisance calls make up 40% of calls to elderly and vulnerable

A trading standards investigation has revealed that about 40% of the phone calls received by older and vulnerable residents in Scotland are nuisance calls.


While it is estimated that across the UK, the average household receives seven nuisance calls a month, it was found that about 40% of the phone calls received by older and vulnerable residents in Scotland are nuisance calls.

The investigation was conducted by three Scottish trading standards authorities, Angus Council, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire.

The research also found that by using new call blocking technology, up to 98% of nuisance calls were blocked leaving residents feeling safer and in greater control of who contacts them.

In a set of recommendations now being investigated further by the councils, it was suggested that call blocking technology should be installed in all council sheltered housing, and available to vulnerable adults in the community or victims of scams in the same way as community alarms and to further educate residents and consumers generally about the risks of nuisance calls so that they can consider protecting themselves.

Brian Smith, Trading Standards Institute's lead officer for Crime and Disorder and Senior Trading Standards Officer for Angus Council, said: "The impact of nuisance calls can be devastating. For many it is just an annoyance but for the elderly and the vulnerable, it can be insidious and dangerous.

"Organised crime can easily turn cold calling into a tool to allow the deception of vulnerable and elderly people, sometimes even into handing over their life-savings. It is hoped that with a national consciousness of this type of problem combined with the successful call blocking technology revealed in these investigations, we could massively reduce the problem and ease the emotional and financial harm that some of the most vulnerable people in society face."

Residents pestered by nuisance calls are urged to follow OFCOM guidance:

  • Don’t give out your telephone number un-necessarily and tick that you don’t want to be contacted with promotional material etc when signing contracts.
  • Register with the telephone preference service 08450 700707 (will reduce calls but not stop them all)
  • Go ex directory.
  • Check the call blocking facilities available from your telephone provider.
  • Consider buying a call blocker device.
  • Marketing calls are allowed but not if you tell the business you don’t want to receive them or you are registered with the Telephone Preference Service – complain to TPS on 08450 700707.
  • If you receive silent or abandoned calls contact OFCOM 0300 1233333.

Read more about the research on the Trading Standards Institute website.

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