From January 2011, all telemarketers' mobile numbers wil start with the same three digits: 700.
This means you will be able to identify a telemarketing call the moment the number starts flashing on your mobile screen. It's then up to you whether to cancel, ignore or take it.
This is part of the 'Customer Call Preference Regulation' on curbing unsolicited marketing calls and SMS messages that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will announce on Tuesday.
The existing National Do Not Call (NDNC) directory will be replaced by a new regime under which subscribers will also have the choice of getting telemarketing calls — if they want — from specific segments of the market for a time period decided by them.
For instance, if a subscriber is looking for a house and wants telemarketing calls from real estate agents for three months, he will get calls only from the real estate segment.
Currently, the NDNC directory maintains a database of all telephone numbers of subscribers who do not want to receive unsolicited commercial calls. A subscriber can register his telephone number with their telecom service provider for inclusion in the NDNC.
Under the new system too, subscribers will have to register their numbers with operators. The new regulations will make it mandatory for the operators to stop unsolicited marketing calls within seven days of registration. Presently, there is a provision of 45 days for operators to upload their numbers.
If the telemarketer breaks the rule and calls from a non-700 number, he will have to pay heavy penalties.
The first five violations will carry a financial penalty. On the sixth violation, the telephone number from which the calls were made will be disconnected.
Currently, there is a paltry penalty of R500 and 1,000 on telemarketers who call numbers listed in the NDNC directory.
Moreover, efficiency of the NDNC directory is only 60-65%. A subscriber gets marketing calls even if he is registered with NDNC. Once all telemarketing call numbers are part of a '700...' series, the subscriber will have the choice of not picking up the calls.