Hyderabad: From telemarketers offering credit cards and loans, TS residents are being hounded by a fast-rising number of spam calls related to the elections. This is so frustrating that, ignoring the privacy concerns posed by Truecaller, users are putting the app to good use to avoid election calls.
Contact numbers have been saved as “election harassment”, “vote beggar”, “election survey”, “BJP vote”, “TRS vote”, “AP CM”, “TRS party”, “election” by users, alerting peers to avoid picking the call.
As D-Day nears, the number of calls received by users is increasing. Mr Naresh Rao, resident of Kukatpally constituency said, “I received 6 to 7 calls today and the worst part is that they call when we are working or in a meeting. It is either to check for whom I am voting or about their party.”
He said that he did not have the Truecaller app but this was so frustrating that he had to download it, ignoring privacy concerns. “I plan to delete it after the elections,” he said.
Hundreds of people are reporting these calls as spam. According to Truecaller, “If there are multiple instances of a particular number being listed as spam by our user community, we designate the number as spam and share this information when there is an incoming spam call or SMS to our users.”
Election aspirants are keen on voice call-based messages even though it is costlier as it is much more effective than an SMS. Users can report such calls using the DnD app of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). This allows users to report telemarketing calls and messages. However, when a user reported using the app, the call centre concerned allegedly threatened the user.
A user said, “My mother and I received a IVRS call regarding the election campaign. I reported this on the TRAI app. Soon I received a threatening call from the marketing executive. They said that it was a mistake that the voice message was sent and the executive would be terminated from his job if the complaint was not withdrawn.”
“They threatened me and I didn’t want to get into a mess, so I withdrew the complaint by informing the service providers. They promised to delete my number from the promotion list,” the user said.
This paper has accessed the communication of the user with the marketing agency. The user said that he revoked the complaint as he did not trust TRAI and alerted the customer care service of withdrawal of complaint. TRAI was not available for immediate comment.
Nonetheless it is evident that candidates are extensively making use of telecom services for bulk promotional calls to voters. CEO Rajat Kumar said that the EC has banned bulk SMSes and calls on Saturday.