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Published 07 February 2019

West Dunbartonshire Trading Standards is offering a number of free call blocking devices to residents suffering from dementia.

The initiative aims to combat the problem of nuisance and scam phone calls, which are often targeted at elderly and vulnerable members of the community.

Last year, devices were installed in 45 homes across the area, and results show that since then of 6744 unwanted calls attempted, a total of 6651 (nearly 99%) were stopped from ringing through to the residents’ telephone.

Resident Sarah Young received her free call blocker last year, and Councillor Ian Dickson and Councillor Iain McLaren visited her home to hear about how it has helped her.

Cllr Dickson, Convener of Corporate Services, said: “The statistics on the number of calls being blocked by these units speak for themselves and I am delighted that we are now able to assist some of our most vulnerable residents in this way.

“It’s great to hear first-hand how effective this initiative has been for Sarah. Not having to deal with cold callers and potential scammers has saved her stress, upset and possible financial harm.

“Another resident has been receiving 121 attempted nuisance calls every month, almost all of which did not get through due to the call blocker, so it really is a valuable scheme and is making a big difference.”

Cllr Iain McLaren, Vice Convener of Corporate Services, added: “For many elderly residents, the phone is their only link to the outside world and it is terrible that scammers are using it to hound them and even defraud them.

“The call blocker equipment will enable residents to make sure that only calls from friends, family and other known and trusted callers get through.”

Sarah, from Clydebank, says she no longer gets unwanted calls thanks to the device.

She said: “I was having problems with calls from a catalogue company, and even though I’d asked them repeatedly to stop they kept phoning me. They were phoning all hours of the day, starting from 8am. I found out after I received about 100 calls from the same company in just a couple of months.

“Since I have had my call blocker, I’m not getting anything. I have it set with a list of trusted numbers, so my family and friends can get through, but most people need to leave me a voicemail so I can return their call. It really helps me filter out the calls I don’t want.

“I’m glad these are being given to more elderly residents because it just gives an extra peace of mind.”

Residents with the device can choose who gets through by banning unrecognised callers or asking them to identify themselves before being connected.

The initiative is being carried out in partnership with Lomond and Clyde Care and Repair and the Council’s Home Care Services who will carry out the installations in residents’ homes.

Any household affected by dementia which is receiving scam or nuisance phone calls may request the free supply and fitting of a call blocker by calling Trading Standards on 0141 951 7957 or email trading.standards@west-dunbarton.gov.uk