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Immunity from pesky calls

New Delhi, April 23: Next time a pesky telemarketing executive jolts you out of your siesta to sell an unwanted credit card, don’t blow your top. Just dial the DNC service.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has proposed that a national “do-not-call service” registry be set up to help consumers shut out unsolicited commercial calls.

“The national do-not-call service registry will be a national database containing telephone numbers of subscribers who have opted not to receive unsolicited commercial calls,” the telecom regulator said today.

All telecom companies will have to set up a mechanism that consumers can access to register for the DNC service. Once registered, the companies will have to ensure that no calls are made to these numbers.

If a call is made to a DNC number, a fine of Rs 500-Rs 1,000 per call could be slapped on the violating company but subscribers will not be eligible for damages. Third-time violators may even have their phone connections snapped.

In the US, UK and Australia, where DNC lists are strictly maintained, violators have to cough up huge fines. Fines in the US go up to $1,100 a call.

A spokesperson for Hutch said the company already had a system of its own in place.

“A subscriber can SMS or dial our customer care numbers and register in the do-not-disturb list. As a policy, we do not contact the numbers on the list with any kind of promotional calls or SMSs.”

Indian Manufacturing Foundation president N.K. Goyal said many banks and telecom companies had individual DNC lists, but it was cumbersome for a subscriber to register for each of them.

“Moreover, most do not even know that such lists exist.”

Punjab National Bank executive director K. Raghuraman said in the larger interest of consumers, “it is a well-regulated mode of functioning”.

The telecom regulator, however, clarified that its intention was not to ban telemarketing activity but to cut out calls to people who do not wish to receive them.

Eighty per cent unsolicited calls could be curbed through DNC lists, it said.

“The telemarketing industry will also benefit because it will reduce the number of calls they need to make to reach interested potential customers,” chairman Nripendra Mishra said.

The DNC service registry will be located in the National Informatics Centre, which is under the department of information technology.

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