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Reducing pesky calls: Separate number series for marketing and service calls coming soon; here’s how it may help

New measures to combat spam calls

: In an effort to tackle the nuisance of pesky calls,

telecom regulators

are gearing up to introduce a new policy mandating different numbering series for different types of commercial calls. Right now, only one series, 140, is used for all commercial calls.
According to ET, these numbers could be split into two categories: 140 for marketing and 160 or 161 for service calls, making it simpler to understand why someone is calling in the future.

This change aligns with recent suggestions from the

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

(TRAI) for network operators and mobile device manufacturers to show caller names for both personal and business calls.
A senior official from TRAI told the financial daily that the

Department of Telecommunications

(DoT) has approved the recommendation for allocating distinct numbering series and that TRAI will soon issue directives to this effect.
He also mentioned that voice calls have become a bigger source of spam than text messages after blockchain-based filters were implemented. While complaints about SMS spam have dropped to only 30,000 per month, reports of unwanted calls from 10-digit personal numbers have reached several hundred thousand.

This is mainly because subscribers have stopped answering calls from the 140 series, assuming they’re spam. As a result, businesses have resorted to using personal numbers instead.
The TRAI official was quoted as saying, “Even banks were unable to fulfil transaction verification calls because subscribers would simply ignore 140 numbers. They had to ultimately resort to other private unregistered SIMs.”
It became a problem because fraudsters with personal SIM cards could deceive people into thinking they were real bank representatives. That’s why it’s necessary to clearly distinguish service calls.

The regulator will introduce a separate range, probably 160 or 161, to help people easily recognize transactional calls without mixing them up with marketing calls.

Marketing calls

will still come from the 140 series as they do now.
According to TRAI data, there are 305,587 entities registered for sending commercial SMS and calls. However, the actual number is likely higher since many entities use 10-digit P2P numbers for telemarketing calls.
An executive at a communications startup commented, “Given that getting private connections is so easy, with up to 10 SIM cards permissible per national ID, businesses refrain from taking the official route for making marketing calls.”
He also noted that fierce competition and price wars among telecom companies have resulted in a blatant disregard for the mandated

Know Your Customer

(KYC) procedure when selling SIM cards.
The government is actively combating spam. In addition to implementing the calling name display feature, DoT recently introduced two portals: ‘Chakshu’ and the Digital Intelligence Platform (DIP).