The government is planning to set up a nodal agency called Digital Intelligence Unit (DIU) to work with law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, and telecom service providers for investigating fraudulent activities involving telecom resources. The new move is aimed to help better deal with digital frauds in India. Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday chaired a high-level meeting to discuss the rising concerns over pesky messages and voice calls, repeated harassment through SMS messages, and fraudulent loan transactions, among others. The meeting was attended by officials including the Telecom Secretary and the Deputy Director General for Access Service.
In addition to the Digital Intelligence Unit, the Ministry of Communication said in a press statement that a specific Telecom Analytics for Fraud Management and Consumer Protection (TAFCOP) system will be created at License Service Area (LSA) level to address digital fraud cases in the country.
The ministry said the system “will strengthen the trust of people in the digital ecosystem and will make financial digital transactions primarily through mobile more secure and reliable.”
Prasad in the meeting directed the officials to take strict action against telemarketers and individuals involved in harassment of telecom subscribers. He noted that telecom resources are also being used in the country to carry out financial frauds, the statement mentioned.
Although telecom operators offer Do Not Disturb (DND) service to let subscribers restrict spam and pesky communication on their devices, officials pointed out that those registered for DND continue to receive commercial communication. This comes from both registered and unregistered telemarketers.
Prasad directed the officials of the Department of Telecom to discuss the issue with telecom service providers and telemarketers in the country and ensure the compliance of laid down rules and procedures in that regard, the Ministry of Communication said in the statement.
In case of any violation, it was proposed to impose financial penalty against the telemarketers voiding the DND service rules. The ministry also planned to even disconnect the resources in case of repetitive violations.
The government is also planning to build a Web/ mobile app and SMS-based system for effective handling of Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC) and financial frauds being done through misuse of telecom resources. This system is aimed to enable telecom subscribers to lodge their complaints related to matters involving UCC.
Additionally, the Union minister directed officials to plan strategies including blocking of telecom operations due to rising concerns in Jharkhand’s Jamtara and Haryana’s Mewat region for restricting fraudulent activities over telecom networks. Both regions are considered amongst the key hubs in the country for managing phishing attacks and financial frauds.
Attackers targeting individuals over phone calls and messages isn’t something new in India. However, with swift growth of digital adoption in the country and people started making digital payments during the national lockdown last year, a strong growth has been noticed in fraudulent digital transactions.
Several people have also brought into notice issues with loan apps that led to even suicides and have been investigated by various state police departments. Similarly, Google took action against some of those apps that were violating its user safety policies and were allegedly harassing their clients. The Reserve Bank of India also set up a working group to explore possibilities to regulate digital lending platforms in the country.
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