WITH 90 per cent of people in Somerset receiving between five and 30 nuisance calls a week, phone scams are still causing major problems for consumers.

The issue has become so widespread that almost a fifth of Somerset adults admit they have been a victim of a telephone scam.

A YouGov survey commissioned by CPR Call Blocker, makers of a call blocking, also revealed the top five scams people are falling victim to in Somerset:

  • 1. Computer virus scam – being called by so-called ‘Microsoft Windows Support’ who inform you of a virus on your computer and asked for your passwords to fix it;
  • 2. Bank account or HMRC scam – someone claiming to be from the bank or HMRC saying there is a problem with your account/tax bill, requesting security details including PIN.
  • 3. Pensions and investments scam – you are told about an ‘unmissable’ investment opportunity or offered pension liberation or bonuses.
  • 4. Missed calls scam – you receive a message asking you to call back a number which is a premium rate line.
  • 5. Lottery/prize scam – you are told you have won a large prize and are asked to pay a processing fee or call a premium rate line to claim your prize.

While many of us are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to spotting a scam, 17 per cent of those questioned have lost money to scams in the last 12 months.

Of those, 31 per cent only lost between £1 and £50, 21% lost between £100 and £500, but 13% lost between £500 and £10,000, while 4% were scammed out of over £10,000.

Bryony Hipkin, at CPR Call Blocker, said: “Scam and nuisance phone calls continue to be a major problem for consumers in Somerset and it’s often the most vulnerable people in society who are falling victim to telephone scams.

"Scammers have a real knack of finding people when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable and they really exploit that.

"I want to encourage people to stay in touch with elderly loved ones.

"A lot of scammers are using the tactic of getting to know that person, becoming a friend to them and then on the fourth or fifth call they start making the request.

“Our customer base tends to be those aged 55 and over who want to eliminate nuisance and scam calls for good.

"By being able to block nuisance phone numbers through the touch of a button, our customers have seen a 90% to 100% reduction in the number of calls received depending on how they choose to use the product.”

To minimise the risk of falling victim to a scam, follow CPR Call Blocker’s quick three-step guide to stopping unwanted calls:

  • Sign up to the Telephone Preference Service – call 0845-0700707 or click here;
  • Don’t consent to being contacted – get your phone number taken off directories and look out for tick boxes on all marketing correspondence to see if ticking or unticking them will prevent your details being passed on to third parties;
  • Consider getting a call blocker.

Ms Hipkin added: “If you’re contacted out of the blue, be suspicious and never respond to an unsolicited call.

"Don’t assume a caller is genuine because they have information about you such as your account details.

"Never give out personal information when answering an incoming call and if you’re not convinced the call is genuine, hang up and call back using the official phone number of the organisation calling from their website or any paperwork you have such as statements.”