A report curated and published by Truecaller finds out that 1 out of 3 (36%) women in India receives sexual and inappropriate calls or text messages, and of these women, 78% claimed to receive harassment calls with inappropriate and sexual content at least once a week, and 82% claimed to receive unsolicited videos and pictures with inappropriate and sexual content at least once a week. On average, 50% of these calls and texts were anonymous, 11% were made by stalkers, and 3% were from a person known to them.

The survey also finds out that only 10% of all women filed a complaint to the police, and only 7% of them named and shamed the spammer on social media (7%).

While most women viewed cold calls from telemarketers, salespeople and fraudsters as a ‘nuisance’, 81% of women surveyed said that blank calls were ‘harassment’. Blank calls in the survey were defined as an anonymous phone call made with the intention to threaten, harass or offend a caller, without a sales-or phishing-related objective. In fact, blank calls were the one type of spam call overwhelmingly felt to be harassment as opposed to nuisance.

What you can do to report stalkers?

Note that in India, stalking-physical or electronic like phone calls, messages, emails etc, is a criminal offence, and is punishable with up to three years of imprisonment. One can file a complaint against the stalkers online. National Commission for Women (NCW) allows citizen to file complaints online here, whether for themselves or on behalf of others.

Payments and Phishing

As per Truecaller’s Insights 2017 report, India has highest number of spam calls in the world, with the average Truecaller user receiving 22.6 spam calls per month. At least once a week, 72% of the women surveyed received calls from fraudsters seeking to collect payments or sensitive personal data, with 4% receiving counterfeit calls almost daily.

According to Truecaller’s internal data it was found that, overall, women in India report 18% more unwanted calls than men do, which is not surprising at all considering all the harassment calls they receive. This is an increase of 5% from last year, which was at 13%.

This research was conducted by Truecaller in collaboration with an independent market research, Ipsos Research in India. The survey was conducted between January 20th – February 22nd 2018 among 2,004 women aged 15-35 across 15 cities in India. This was done on a smartphone interface, using a self-complete methodology ensuring short length of interview in an engaging format. The internal data in this article was aggregated anonymously from spam reports in India during the period of December 1st, 2017 to December 31th, 2017 to understand the trends and usage.

Spam calls in India

TRAI has an option to manually block these unsolicited calls and even launched an app to manage them. The app has a complaint section, but going by the comments section on Play Store, the complaint portal isn’t up to the mark, and resolving complaints takes a lot of time. The app crowdsources details about spam calls from users–subscribers themselves flag the calls. This data can be used to identify spammers, but the sheer amount of spam calls could be the reason why user complaints against spam callers aren’t effective to filter them out.

It’s difficult to fully eradicate spam, mostly because bulk databases of phone numbers are available for purchase online. In the recent Jio data leaks, the accused had allegedly gained access to a large database of Jio phone numbers. It’s not yet clear how the accused person was able to get access to the database.

TRAI has specific guidelines and termination charges for SMS when companies use the telecom subscriber base to advertise to advertise their products. But it isn’t the same when it comes to phone calls. The regulator currently fines operators for unsolicited spam calls, but it could also look at other options like increasing interconnection charges for promo calls, cancelling phone numbers that indulge in unsolicited telemarketing, better complaint monitoring system, and placing daily the limits on number of promo calls, etc., as seen in case of SMS guidelines.

Read the full report here.