Government’s New Plan to Protect You from Financial Scams

With phone call scams on the rise, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has introduced a new tool to help identify genuine calls from fraudulent ones. This tool involves a special 10-digit numbering series starting with 160 for calls related to services and transactions made by the government, regulators, and financial entities.

Identifying Genuine Calls

To make it easier to recognize genuine calls from financial institutions and telecom operators, the DoT has allocated a separate 10-digit number for service and transaction-related calls. These numbers will start with 160 and follow the format 1600ABCXXX for government, financial institutions, and telecom regulators.

  • AB: Code of the telecom circle (e.g., 11 for Delhi, 22 for Mumbai)
  • C: Code of the telecom operator
  • XXX: Digits between 000-999

For financial entities regulated by RBI, SEBI, PFRDA, and IRDA, the number will be in the 1601ABCXXX format.

Telecom service providers (TSPs) must verify each entity before assigning a number from the 160 series and obtain an undertaking that these numbers will be used exclusively for service and transactional voice calls.

Fighting Spam Calls

Telecom operators are also working with technology partners to implement solutions to curb spam calls and messages. They have deployed a blockchain-based solution (Distributed Ledger Technology, DLT) to reduce unsolicited commercial communications (UCC).

S P Kochhar, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said that while the DLT framework has reduced spam SMS, UCC from voice calls is still an issue that regulators and operators are addressing together. COAI, which includes members like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea, is closely working with the government to tackle this problem.

Citizen Involvement

Vigilant citizens play a crucial role in preventing cybercrimes by reporting suspected fraud communications through the Sanchar Saathi portal’s Chakshu-Report Suspected Fraud Communications facility. This proactive reporting helps create a safer digital environment.

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