The county council launched the call blockers scheme back in 2013 which saw older and vulnerable people receiving call monitoring devices in their homes which can detect and block nuisance or scam calls.
Residents with a referral from the council’s adult care service, community safety teams or the police were able to apply to receive a device, and to date 76 call blocking machines have been installed in homes across the county.
Trading Standards officers report that the scheme, which has cost the council just over £11,700, has blocked 68,666 nuisance calls from getting through and has prevented up to 77 incidents of people being scammed.
The figures have been revealed at the start of the national Citizens Advice Scams Awareness 2019 campaign, which runs until 23 June.
As well as preventing people from the stress of unwanted calls and potentially falling victim to scams, it is estimated that preventing scams and nuisance calls can lead to a reduction in NHS and social care costs.
This is because falling victim to a scam can increase the likelihood of an older or vulnerable person being admitted to hospital or needing increased social care and support after the incident.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said:
“The number of calls being blocked clearly shows the extent of the problem and worryingly we know that vulnerable and older people are often targeted.
“Having one of these devices can make all the difference and go a long way to keeping people safe and protected in their own homes, and it’s really encouraging to see the figures for the number of scams already prevented.
“If these callers do get through we always advise people to just put the phone down and never sign up to anything or give your details, especially your financial details, away.
“If people have jobs they need doing they can find reputable traders by using our Trusted Trader scheme, and we’re asking relatives and friends to keep an eye on their loved ones to make sure they’re not falling victim to telephone scams.”
Call blocking devices fit onto a home phone line and feature a call screening service which enables the homeowner to accept or reject certain types of calls, and recognised numbers can be pre-programmed so they can be answered as normal.
The devices can stop certain types of calls being received all together such as anonymous or silent calls and calls from automated diallers, often used by telemarketers and scammers.
Some call blocking devices feature a recorded message inviting the caller to contact a family member or other carer on an alternative number.
The county council has a very small number of call blocking devices currently available to give away to people who qualify, but they are available to buy for people who would like one but have not received a referral.
Local groups, clubs and charities who are involved in community safety activities, working on projects to reduce crime or fear of crime, help residents to feel safe and raise awareness about scams and rogue traders, could apply for a county council Action Grant which could then be used to buy call-blocking devices for residents they think could benefit. An example could be a local Neighbourhood Watch scheme applying to the community safety strand of the Action Grants.
The next deadline to apply for Action Grants of £500 is 30 June 2019.
Get more information about Action Grants
Residents who are concerned about any kind of fraud can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
Trading Standards also encourage people to register their home phone to opt out of unsolicited and marketing calls with the free Telephone Preference Service