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Call-blocker scheme helps reduce cold calls to dementia sufferers

Almost 1,800 nuisance phone calls made to homes of dementia sufferers have been blocked as part of a pilot scheme in the East Riding. East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s trading standards team are taking part in a national call blocker trial, which is being run in conjunction with Friends against Scams and trueCall.

The scheme is aimed at those people who have a family member in the home who has been diagnosed with dementia and involves a small device being fitted to their home telephone line. Those taking part in the scheme can choose the level of filtering – from a basic level which helps disrupt the scam or nuisance callers to only numbers approved by the person, such as family and friends, able to get through.

There are currently eight devices being trialled in the East Riding and between July and November, almost 1,800 nuisance calls were blocked with people reporting they were no longer receiving scam phone calls.

The data collected by the device can then be sent for analysis to help the national scams team gather information to investigate those making the scam or nuisance phone calls.

East Riding resident, Ron, whose wife Ann has been diagnosed with dementia, jumped at the chance at taking part in the scheme.

He said: “I had a call once from a woman telling me we had been in the wrong council tax band for a number of years and we were due a refund. When she started asking for my bank account and sort code the alarm bells started ringing and I put the phone down. So when I heard about this device I signed up straight away as only people we know can get through and it gives me peace of mind in case Ann picks up the phone as I know she’s not going to be faced with a nuisance call.”

Councillor Shaun Horton, portfolio holder for community involvement at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, welcomed the scheme, saying: “There are so many people, particularly those who are vulnerable, who fall victim to telephone scams so having a device like this will help give peace of mind. The difference with this device is that the telephone numbers that try to get through are collected so a national team can start putting together information in order to try and disrupt these people. Those taking part in the scheme in the East Riding have reported a complete stop in nuisance or scam phone calls which is great news.”

Anyone who is living with a person diagnosed with dementia and is interested in one of the devices should contact www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk or contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk

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