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Vulnerable people need to be protected from nuisance calls and scams

Vulnerable people should be given free call blocking equipment to stop nuisance calls that could be potential financial scams, says a researcher from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Claire Milne, an independent telecommunications consultant and Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE, says vulnerable elderly people in particular need to be protected from the increasing number of nuisance and scam calls in the UK, which can result in the loss of life savings.

Every year, more than three million people in the UK fall victim to scams, losing hundreds and even thousands of pounds.

elderly_phone140pLegislation to deal with illegal nuisance calls is proving inadequate, with the onus falling back on individuals and telephone companies to take action.

Ms Milne says companies are undeterred by the prospect of fines, taking advantage of low call costs and cheap overseas labour to increase sales of products and services.

“Customers will continue to suffer – particularly vulnerable people – unless the Government takes urgent action,” she says.

A lack of co-ordinated action involving both regulatory bodies and telephone companies is making it too easy for telemarketers to call people in their own homes. Some of these are from legitimate companies but many are targeted scams.

Despite the fact that two-thirds of UK residential lines are now ex-directory, often to avoid marketing calls, and landlines are increasingly being replaced by mobiles, complaints regarding nuisance calls have risen.

“Part of the problem is the difficulty in classifying nuisance calls because many of the calls that annoy people are actually legal,” Ms Milne says.

“For most of us they are simply a nuisance and we can deal with them fairly efficiently, but for others the calls can be very stressful and in the case of scams, the repercussions can be extremely serious.”

May is Scams Awareness Month in the UK. For more information go to: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sam14


Claire Milne, Visiting Senior Fellow, LSE, c.milne@lse.ac.uk, 020 7609 1092; Candy Gibson, LSE Press Office, c.gibson@lse.ac.uk, 020 7955 7440.

Additional notes

Claire Milne is a Visiting Senior Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Since 1989 she has been a freelance consultant, providing policy and regulatory advice in dozens of countries on all continents. In parallel she has served on several public bodies in the UK. Her early career was with BT; she has degrees in Mathematics and Statistics.

Ms Milne has authored a briefing paper on Nuisance Calls as published by the LSE Media Policy Project and has written blog posts on the subject since the briefing paper was published providing updates on the situation in the UK.

19 May 2014