New 10-Digit Number Series to Curb Unsolicited Commercial Messaging and Calls

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New Delhi, 30th May 2024: In an effort to enhance transparency and accountability in commercial messaging and combat unsolicited consumer contact and fraud, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has announced the allocation of a new 10-digit number series starting with ‘160’. This series will be used exclusively for messaging by central and state governments, banks, insurance companies, pension providers, credit card companies, and investment advisors.

The new regulations, however, do not cover sectors such as real estate or utility companies like electricity or gas suppliers.

This initiative aims to reduce unwanted calls and ensure that consumers can easily identify whether a call or message originates from a regulated entity. To support this, telecom companies have been directed to conduct “adequate verification” of each entity before assigning a number.

“The telecom service provider shall obtain an undertaking from the requesting entity that it will use the number assigned from the 160 series exclusively for service and transactional voice calls, in accordance with the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCPR), 2018,” the office memorandum issued by DoT stated.

Thousands of individuals have fallen victim to fraudsters posing as representatives of banks or utility companies, who extract personal information to carry out scams. The DoT believes that the standardised numbering format will help consumers distinguish legitimate communications from fraudulent ones, thereby reducing incidents where consumers are deceived into providing sensitive personal information.

This move is expected to significantly curb fraudulent activities and protect consumers from scams that have proliferated through unsolicited calls and messages.