The Department of Telecom (DoT) has put plans on the table to punish spam callers by imposing financial penalties and stricter action upon repeated violations.
The move comes about as the menace of Unwanted Commercial Communication (UCC) continues unabated.
Two Special Wings Created To Nab Scammers
To that effect, DoT has set up two particular wings- Digital Intelligence Unit (DIU) and Telecom Analytics for Fraud management and Consumer Protection (TAFCOP). These units will lead the effort to track crimes committed using telecom networks and curb the menace of unsolicited calls and messages.
They will also track and punish those who keep calling people who have put the number in the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) list.
The monetary penalty is fixed at Rs 10,000 per call or text made by telemarketers after 50 violations. DoT is looking to further tighten the screw by levying a penalty of Rs 1,000 per violation for 0-10 breaches, Rs 5,000 each for 10-50 offenses, and Rs 10,000 each for more than 50 violations.
Under Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR), 2018, the present slabs are 0-100, 100-1,000, and more than 1,000 violations.
DIU will send an automated message to suspected numbers for verification.
If the operator fails to comply, their number could be disconnected, and IMEIs will be listed as suspicious. Furthermore, the suspected IMEIs will be prohibited from sending any call text for 30 days.
Violations And Their Consequences
If scammers attempt to circumvent rules by getting another device, the IMEI number of that device will also be put in the suspected list until it completes re-verification.
If the number becomes active once again post re-verification, the new connection will be allowed to send only 20 calls and 20 SMSes per day for six months. If they persist, they could have their identity and address proof used to buy phone connections blocked for two years.
What The Public Can Do
To opt out of UCC, one can send an SMS to 1909 with the message ‘STOP’ and the company’s name behind the spam messages. With this, any UCC sent by the perpetrator will be blocked, barring transactional messages. DoT will also set up a grievance redressal system for the public to post complaints and seek resolution regarding UCC.