From the Trading Standards Service, Stirling Council
Every day consumers receive thousands of unwanted marketing calls. For the majority the calls are quickly ended with no financial detriment or other harm befalling the telephone owner.
For some householders, particularly the vulnerable, these calls can result in physical, mental or financial harm. In their rush to get to the telephone some householders trip or fall ending up in A&E, for some the constant ringing can cause distress and for a significant number the householder can fall victim to a scam giving out personal details and agreeing to contracts that they neither need or want.
In 2014 Trading Standards Scotland based in COSLA offered every Local Authority Trading Standards Service ten TrueCall devices for their local residents. Locally Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils Joint Trading Standards Service subsequently purchased a further 30 devices and have been given a further five devices by COSLA this year. Across Scotland an average of 55 calls are blocked each month per device – locally that is around 65 calls blocked per device per month.
A TrueCall device looks like an answering machine and is plugged into the main telephone socket whilst the householders telephone is plugged into the TrueCall device. It requires a power source and the householder to subscribe to “caller display” from the telephone contract provider – this is now a free service from all Telecoms providers. The devices remain the property of Stirling & Clackmannanshire Councils and can be reused when the householder moves to stay with a relative or into a home.
All trusted telephone numbers are programmed for the device ie family, friends, doctors, dentists, vets, ministers etc – these can subsequently be added to, amended or removed as necessary.
Any trusted number gets through without anyone noticing any difference. If an unknown number dials then depending on the settings applied to the device one of two responses happens. With the tightest settings any unknown caller is told that the person only wishes to speak with friends and family members but if the caller has a legitimate reason to speak with them then they should call “Pat on 01234 567890”, Pat being a son/niece or other trusted person) can then assess whether to add them to the trusted list or if a message should be passed on. With the less secure setting 97/98% of callers hang up when told to do so, the remaining callers can get through to speak with the householder so this setting only works where all householders are able to make informed.
We have a supply of devices available. You can help identify who would benefit from such a device. If you have a local constituent suffering from memory issues or who is susceptible to providing personal details to callers or agreeing to contracts without thinking or if you are visiting a local householder and they are experiencing a number of telephone calls or if they complain about doing so please ask if you can refer them to Trading Standards. We can be contacted on 01786 443322 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Author & Project Lead: Brian Wilson
Contact Details: 01786 233650