The Delhi Police is prepared to sign a contract with caller ID verification service Truecaller in order to assist consumers in recognising verified numbers and safeguard themselves from online fraud and scams including impersonating government authorities.
Truecaller will list the official numbers of Delhi Police representatives on the app’s government directory services in addition to educating Delhi citizens and conducting a combined awareness campaign against cyber crimes, according to the police.
“During the Covid pandemic, Truecaller helped us a lot as a lot of scams and frauds on the pretext of selling oxygen cylinders, concentrators, medicines and other essentials associated with treating the deadly virus were reported. So, our officials had identified the numbers of fraudsters and alerted Truecaller which displayed those unverified numbers as spam,” said Suman Nalwa, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Public Relations Officer).
“Now we are signing an MoU with them following which, they will verify all the official contact numbers of the Delhi Police since fraudsters have many times posed as officials of the force and extorted money from the public by displaying picture of senior officers on their WhatsApp profile,” she added.
According to Nalwa, all verified numbers of the Delhi Police will have a green badge, a blue tick mark, and a government service tag highlighting that it has been verified for users. This will help users identify verified numbers and protect them from frauds and scams involving the impersonation of government officials.
“We are very excited about our partnership with the Delhi Police that will create much wider awareness in the community on ways to stay safe that will benefit citizens significantly and improve their digital safety,” Pragya Misra, Director of Public Affairs, Truecaller, told news agency PTI.
“Our sophisticated caller identification and spam detection feature for calls and SMSs continues to play an important role in preventing people from frauds and scams. We stay committed to promoting safety in digital communications, especially for vulnerable sections like first-time internet users, women and senior citizens,” Misra said.
According to officials, Truecaller will also mark the phone numbers furnished by the Delhi Police against whom it has received complaints regarding harassment, scam or other registered issues.
This will help Delhiites protect themselves and alert them in case these numbers continue to remain active, the force said.
Earlier this week, a 22-year-old Indian based in Italy was arrested for allegedly posing as the Vice President of India by creating a fake WhatsApp account using Jagdeep Dhankhar’s picture as his profile display to dupe people and seek favours from senior bureaucrats.
The accused, Gagandeep Singh, who is living in Offanengo, Italy since 2007 with his family, got the idea of impersonation after watching several YouTube videos.
In another case, three men who posed as officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Crime Branch of Delhi Police, were arrested for allegedly extorting Rs 1.8 crore from a retired commandant of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force by threatening to post an obscene video of him on social media platforms.
“As per the MoU, we will have to share our official contact numbers for inclusion in the government directory services feature. We will also need to alert Truecaller about the latest cybercrime threats and trends and share numbers on spam or scam on a regular basis,” Nalwa said.
Besides this, Truecaller will also help in generating awareness about cyber safety by conducting cyberwise training sessions with the assistance of Delhi Police. It will help educating the public about better ways to tackle cyber fraud, police said.
Last year, Truecaller trained about 1.6 million Indians with the goal of making digital communication safe, Misra said.
“This initiative is another step building on those efforts to empower many more netizens to protect themselves against harm and take advantage of the immense opportunities that the internet brings,” she said.
Officials said Truecaller will also disseminate the Delhi Police-cyber safety videos through the online cyber safety curriculum created by Truecaller which will share push notifications to users within the app about Delhi Police’s initiatives on cyber safety, important helpline numbers and their highlights.
(With inputs from PTI)