Mumbai-based 40-year-old Arpita Roy, a finance professional like many others, found herself bombarded with unsolicited commercial calls recently. Her phone rang incessantly with offers ranging from credit cards to dubious investment opportunities. "As my work concerns a lot of phone calls from clients already, even after work, I would feel frustrated and exasperated with the barrage of calls. After work hours, I only expect calls from my close family and friends," says Roy.
In the era of digital connectivity, it's not uncommon for our personal space to be invaded by unsolicited commercial calls (UCC). In India, where the smartphone revolution has taken firm roots, the barrage of such calls can sometimes feel overwhelming. Not only are these calls an intrusion into your time, but they also pose a potential threat to your financial well-being.
Based on a study conducted by the consumer research company LocalCircles in Delhi, which collected responses from around 57,000 individuals spanning different demographics and locations in India, it was found that, on average, 68 per cent of mobile subscribers receive four or more promotional or spam SMS messages every day.
While India has witnessed a rapid increase in mobile phone users, there is a vast market for telemarketers and scammers. Many companies resort to mass calling to promote their products or services, while fraudulent entities use these calls to extract sensitive financial information.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has implemented regulations to curb these practices, but they persist. "Consumer can block all commercial communications (calls and SMSs both) or can selectively block UCCs from specified seven categories [1) banking/insurance/ financial products/credit cards; 2) real estate; 3) education; 4) health; 5) consumer goods and automobiles; 6) communication/broadcasting/entertainment/IT and 7) tourism and leisure] by registering his/her preference in National Customer Preference Register (NCPR) also known as DND Registry," according to the information provided on TRAI website.
1. Register With DND (Do Not Disturb)
The first defence against unsolicited calls is registering your number with the National Do Not Call Registry. This can be done by sending an SMS, calling 1909, or using your service provider's website.
Moreover, should you prefer to restrict calls exclusively from a particular category such as real estate, health, etc., adhere to the following steps:
Compose a new message and input START.
Dispatch the message to 1909.
Subsequently, you will receive a comprehensive list of categories, each with its respective number.
Respond with the number corresponding to the category you wish to block.
1. Enrol In DND On Jio, Airtel, And Vodafone Websites
Enrol in the Do Not Disturb (DND) service through the websites of Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone. You also have the option to register for DND on the websites of Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone-Idea.
For Jio DND registration, adhere to the following steps:
Launch the MyJio app.
Navigate to Settings -> Service settings -> Do not disturb.
Choose the specific categories you wish to block.
1. For Airtel DND registration, Follow These Steps.
· Visit airtel.in/airtel-dnd.
Input your mobile number and OTP.
Choose the categories you wish to block.
1. For Vodafone DND Registration, Adhere To These Steps:
Provide your mobile number, email address, and name.
Choose the categories you wish to block.
Leverage the power of technology by using third-party apps designed to block spam calls. Several apps are available on both Android and iOS platforms that can identify and filter out unwanted calls.
Be cautious when receiving calls claiming to be from banks, government agencies, or utility companies. Avoid sharing personal or financial information over the phone. Legitimate entities usually communicate through official channels and do not ask for sensitive details over the phone.
If, despite registering for DND, you continue to receive unsolicited calls, report the violations to TRAI. They have mechanisms in place to take action against telemarketers who flout regulations.
Stay informed about the latest scams and tactics employed by fraudsters. Awareness is critical to avoiding phishing attempts or other financial scams initiated through phone calls.
Keep a record of unsolicited calls, noting the number, date, and time. This information can be useful when reporting violations to TRAI.
In case any subscriber receives unsolicited commercial communication after the expiry of seven days from the date of his registration in NCPR/DND, he/she may make a complaint to the service provider through voice call or SMS to toll-free short code 1909 or through DND app within three days of receipt of such UCC. For registering the complaint through SMS, the subscriber should forward the SMS to 1909 in the following format: The telephone number or header of the UCC and when the call came, in dd/mm/yy format.