Govt forms committee to address issue of ‘spam calls’

New Delhi: The Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India, has taken proactive steps to tackle the persistent problem of pesky, promotional, or unsolicited commercial calls that inundate consumers.

To address this nuisance, the government has constituted a committee comprising members from various sectors including the cellular industry and regulatory bodies such as the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Reserve Bank of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

Chaired by Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), the committee recently convened a meeting on February 14, 2024, to deliberate on the pervasive issue of pesky, promotional, and unsolicited commercial calls.

During the meeting, participants discussed the detrimental effects of these calls, which not only breach the privacy of users but also infringe upon consumers’ rights.

It was observed that a significant portion of these calls originate from the financial services sector, closely followed by the real estate industry.

Moreover, there is a growing trend of spam callers leveraging internet-based platforms such as WhatsApp to entice individuals into various schemes, including crypto investments and fraudulent job offers.

In response to these challenges, previous efforts by the Department of Telecommunication and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) were highlighted.

These efforts primarily focus on addressing spam messages and pesky calls from registered telemarketers. Telemarketers have been instructed to register their business entities, sender IDs, and SMS templates on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) platforms operated by telecom operators.

The DLT system aims to bring transparency to the telemarketing ecosystem, mitigate SMS spam, and safeguard consumers against fraudulent practices.

The meeting underscored the importance of strict compliance with existing regulations. Specifically, all telemarketers have been advised to prefix their phone numbers with the 140 number series, enabling consumers to identify the nature of the calls they receive and exercise greater control over their communication preferences.

However, it was noted that certain unregistered telemarketers continue to flout these regulations, necessitating enhanced enforcement measures.

Representatives from key stakeholders including the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), TRAI, COAI, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Vodafone, Airtel, and Reliance actively participated in the meeting, signaling a collaborative effort to combat the menace of pesky calls and safeguard consumer interests.




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