In order to curb unauthorised persons or scammers from making pesky calls, the ministry of communications’ department of telecommunications (DoT) has introduced a new 10-number numbering series, 160xxxxxxx, for making service or transactional calls, which will provide citizens with a way to easily identify legitimate calls.

This new series will be exclusively used by central and state governments, and other legitimate entities including banks, insurance companies, and financial services companies like credit card firms and investment advisers.

The development comes amid the misuse of 140xxxxxxx series for many. This series has been allocated to telemarketers for making promotional or service or transactional voice calls. The ministry says “as 140xx series is being used extensively for promotional calls, consumers normally do not respond to such calls and many important service/transactional calls are missed”.

This has resulted in the wide use of regular 10-digit numbers by genuine entities for making service or transactional calls, which in turn gives opportunity to fraudsters to deceive consumers using 10-digit numbers.

“Hence, in order to create confidence among the consumers and to enable them to distinguish between the spam calls originating from 10-digit unknown numbers and the genuine service/transactional calls from genuine principal entities, there was a need for separate number series to cater service/transactional voice calls,” the ministry has said.

Allocating a new numbering series, i.e., 160xxxxxxx, which will exclusively be used for service or transactional voice calls by the principle entities, will help users identify between service/transactional calls or others.

“Now, for example, the service/transactional calls originating from Financial Entities like by RBI, SEBI, PFRDA, IRDA, etc shall start from 1601,” the ministry adds.

The government has said telecom service providers (TSP) will ensure adequate verification of every entity before assigning a number from the 160 series and the entity will undertake to use it “only for service or transactional calls” as per Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR), 2018.

The ministry says consumers can have more confidence in the legitimacy of calls from the 160xxxxxxx series, which will reduce the risk of falling victim to scams.

New Number Scheme:

Service Call: These kinds of calls mean voice calls made to recipients either with consent or using a template registered for the purpose, the purpose of which is to facilitate, complete, or confirm a commercial transaction the recipient has previously consented to enter into with the sender. It can also be made to provide warranty information, product recall information, safety or security information with respect to a commercial product or service used or purchased by the recipient.

Transactional Call: The new scheme will allow transactional calls, meaning voice calls which is not promotional in nature and are for the purpose of alerts to its own customers or account holders, and information to be communicated by the voice call is time-critical in nature.

Promotional Call: The promotion call means a commercial communication voice call for which the sender has not taken any explicit consent from the recipient to make such voice calls to him.

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