A number to shut out pesky calls

First three digits to be same for all telemarketing mobile numbers

A number to shut out pesky calls

Come January 2011, all mobile phone numbers of telemarketing firms will be assigned 700 as the first three of eight-digit numbers. This will make it easy for all cellphone users to recognise that a telemarketing company is on the line. Needless to say that cellphone users would have the freedom to entertain as well as block such calls.

While the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has devised this method to prevent intrusive marketing tactics, it is not known what steps it intends to take to stop unsolicited marketing SMSs.

TRAI’s effort forms part of what it describes as Customer Call Preference Regulation (CCPR) which will replace the existing National Do Not Call (NDNC) directory. By exercising  choice, a subscriber could prefer to take calls from specific segments of the market for a certain period of time. For instance, if a subscriber is looking for information on credit cards and wants telemarketing calls from only banks for a month, he will receive calls only from the banking segment.

However, under the new system, subscribers will have to register their numbers with their respective operators. The new regulations will make it mandatory for operators to stop unsolicited marketing calls within seven days of registration. Currently, there is a provision of 45 days for operators to upload their numbers.

If the telemarketer violates the rule and makes calls from numbers other than those beginning with 700, the company will be liable to pay a heavy penalty. The first violations will carry a financial penalty, while the sixth will lead to an automatic disconnection. At present, the NDNC directory maintains a database of all telephone numbers of subscribers who do not want to receive calls from unsolicited marketing companies. A subscriber can register his telephone number with his/her telecom service provider for inclusion in the NDNC.

Under the NCDC system, the penalty amount on telemarketers who call numbers listed on the directory was a mere Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. The NDNC failed to work as an effective checking mechanism even though subscribers registered with the directory.

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