Taking a proactive approach, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is blocking both overseas and local phone numbers used by fraudsters and anti-national elements for committing cybercrimes and issuing threats. The move was made without prior approval from the Intelligence Bureau or the police.
A report by ET cited an official mentioning that over 1,500 callers have been blocked by the government in the last three–four days following a scrutiny of the credentials of such calls from telecom operators. The numbers including international ones are blocked based on the complaints.
The officials said that although criminal investigations by security agencies are underway, miscreants will not be allowed the misuse of telecom resources. Designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who has been threatening to target the Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange and Air India, is one among the blocked callers.
International gateways for the details of such callers are also being checked. Moreover, telecommunication companies have been asked to report calls received by their customer care centres to the DoT.
Financial fraud committed by callers from international numbers has increased recently. Without any documentation, they have been employing a variety of apps that provide international numbers with an eSIM. The DoT ordered Google, Apple, telecom companies and internet service providers to prohibit the eSIM apps Holafly and Airalo last week.
According to officials, the apps were taken down when it was discovered that scammers utilise unauthorised eSIMs with foreign phone numbers to carry out cybercrimes.
Bulk connection provision has been discontinued, and SIM card dealers' authentication has been made essential, as part of these measures.
Additionally, franchisees, distributors and point of sale agents are required to be mandatorily registered by telecom operators. This aids in the removal of rogue organisations that, as part of fraudulent activities, issue SIM cards to anti-social and anti-national individuals.
However, non-Indian suppliers still charge for eSIMs and do not perform any verification. After checking details with telecom providers, the government has begun barring rogue numbers as a solution to the problem.