News : Prank Calls Versus Toll-free Numbers
Vijayawada, India, Sept 3, 2015 -- If you thought only girls and women get prank calls, you ought to know the woes of men who endure ‘nuisance’ calls day-in and day out.
Staff appointed by various departments to receive phone calls on toll-free numbers, are at the receiving end of phoney calls. "It’s my birthday today. Please wish me," or "I am alone at home. What are you doing now?" are the kind of callers they confront on toll-free numbers — 100, 101 and 108 among many others.
Police and Fire personnel on night shifts are victims of ‘drunken calling’ with tipsy citizens hurling choicest abuses at them at odd hours. The menace touches a peak on weekends and public holidays.
To counter this, the police and the fire wings have installed caller identification mechanism to trace the callers. In few instances, students are the pranksters, while young children have also been found dialling from their parent’s mobile phones.
The police department receives over 800 calls every day. Of them, close to 200 are genuine while others are blank or prank calls. The fire services wing too receives same number of calls but 95 per cent of them are fake. Of the 40,000 calls the call centre of 108 ambulance gets daily from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, 6 per cent are fake, says the Chief Operating Officer of GVK-EMRI 108, Telangana and AP, P. Brahmananda Rao.
Says Vijayawada control room in-charge Circle Inspector, K. Madhusudhan Reddy: "We are tracing pranksters using caller identification mode. We have summoned and warned a few student pranksters." Petty cases were registered against those who dialled 100 at midnight in an inebriated condition and disturbed the staff.
Fire personnel say a few children repeatedly call from their parent’s mobile phone and wait for some time before disconnecting the call. "We attend every call since the caller may need our help. But if the caller is silent for more than 10 seconds we disconnect the line," an official at the fire control room explains. He says the worry is that a genuine caller in need of help might be trying and not be able to get through the line because of these prank calls. "Despite informing the police, nothing has been done," the official says. Mr. Rao of 108 call centre said they had blacklisted a few numbers of habitual pranksters.
The toll-free numbers installed by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams , APSRTC, Arogyasri Seva Kendram, State Disaster Response Management Department too get blank calls.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, September 4, 2015