DoT’s New Initiative: Combating Fraud With Dedicated Number Series

DoT's New Initiative: Combating Fraud With Dedicated Number Series

DoT's New Initiative: Combating Fraud With Dedicated Number Series

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The measure underscores the government’s commitment to bolstering consumer protection mechanisms and fostering a secure digital environment conducive to economic transactions and public trust.

30 May 2024

By Payoshi Bisht 

In a proactive move aimed at enhancing transparency and curbing fraudulent activities in commercial messaging, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has announced the allocation of a distinct 10-digit number series commencing with ‘160’. This series is exclusively designated for messaging purposes by central and state governments, banks, insurance companies, pension providers, credit card companies and investment advisors.

The initiative, while laudable, has drawn attention to its apparent oversight of certain sectors such as real estate and utilities like electricity or gas supply companies, which are not explicitly mentioned in the regulatory framework issued by the DoT.

The regulations emphasise the imperative for telecom companies to conduct thorough verification processes for entities before assigning them a number from the 160 series. Entities seeking allocation from this series are required to provide an undertaking ensuring compliance with the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR), 2018. This regulation stipulates the use of the allocated numbers exclusively for service and transactional voice calls.

The rationale behind this move is rooted in the alarming rise of fraudulent activities wherein unsuspecting individuals have fallen victim to impostors posing as representatives of legitimate institutions, extracting personal information for illicit purposes. By standardising the numbering format and restricting its use to regulated entities, the DoT aims to instil confidence in consumers, enabling them to discern between genuine service providers and potential fraudsters.

The introduction of the 160 series is not only intended to deter fraudulent entities seeking investments but also to safeguard consumers from divulging sensitive personal information for nefarious activities. With this standardised numbering system, the DoT anticipates a significant reduction in instances of consumer exploitation and fraudulent practices perpetrated through unsolicited calls and messages.