New Delhi, Sept. 9: About half the country’s telemarketing firms remain outside the reach of the do-not-call registry, more than a week after the deadline passed.
Telemarketers — all agencies that make calls or send texts to sell products — were asked in June to register with the department of telecom before September 1 or forfeit their licence.
So far, 14,750 firms with around 4.5 lakh telephone lines have applied for registration with telecom service providers or directly with the department. The applications are being verified before certificates are issued.
An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 telemarketers operate in the country, making over 1,000 crore unsolicited calls a year. Around 3 lakh people are employed by these firms, many of which also double as call centres.
“Telemarketers have been given some more time to register before the government cancels their licence to make calls or send messages,” a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) official said.
In June, when Trai issued directives to check unsolicited calls, it had said: “In case a telemarketer fails to register with DoT by the end of August 2007, their telecom services would get disconnected and they would not be allowed to make any calls or send messages.”
A national do-not-call registry would be up from September, it said, and any phone subscriber who wanted to block marketing calls could do so by signing up with it. The registry is now open and subscribers can expect unsolicited calls to stop by the end of October.
The National Informatics Centre, authorised to set up the registry to maintain a record of users who do not want unsolicited commercial calls, has readied a scrubbing module which is being validated by Trai.
Once the module is functional, Trai will ask all telemarketers registered with it to get their calling list scrubbed — so that they would be able to dial only those numbers which are not listed in the do-not-call registry.
Telemarketers who violate the rules and call a number on the do-not-call list will be fined Rs 500 for each unwanted call or message the first time. The fine will double for the second offence. In the third instance, the telemarketer’s line will be disabled.
Since a majority of telemarketers are employed by the banking sector, Trai has asked the Reserve Bank of India and the Indian Banks’ Association to ensure that firms without a registration certificate from the department are not hired. The certificates will be valid for 10 years.