WhatsApp audio, video calls ‘scam’: 46% Indian users affected, says survey - Hindustan Times
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WhatsApp audio, video calls ‘scam’: 46% Indian users affected, says survey

By | Edited by Aniruddha Dhar
May 17, 2023 11:53 PM IST

Fraudsters have been utilising phone numbers associated with various countries including Ethiopia, Malaysia, Kenya, Vietnam, and more.

A survey revealed that nearly half (46%) of WhatsApp users in India have been inundated with a barrage of audio or video calls from unfamiliar numbers. These calls predominantly originate from international numbers and often claim to provide simple tasks such as engaging with YouTube videos by liking them.

23 percent reported receiving scam calls from both domestic and international numbers. (Bloomberg)(MINT_PRINT)
23 percent reported receiving scam calls from both domestic and international numbers. (Bloomberg)(MINT_PRINT)

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In a survey conducted by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, it was revealed that a staggering 86 per cent of individuals affected by these unsolicited calls have been receiving them consistently for the past 30 days. Fraudsters have been utilising phone numbers associated with various countries, including Ethiopia, Malaysia, Kenya, Vietnam, and more. More importantly, the country code of these calls does not necessarily indicate the actual origin of the calls.

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The survey also indicated that among the respondents, 59 per cent confirmed that the majority of these calls originate from international numbers. Additionally, 23 per cent reported receiving scam calls from both domestic and international numbers, with the domestic numbers comprising a smaller portion.

Indian government's action

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Union minister of state for the ministry of electronics and information technology, has announced that the government will be issuing a formal notice to WhatsApp, a subsidiary of the Meta Group, regarding the concerning problem of spam calls originating from unknown international numbers. The minister emphasised that the responsibility for safeguarding user safety rests with the digital platform.

The survey also cited news agency PTI report that said the government is actively investigating the methods employed to identify and gain access to these WhatsApp numbers.

What was Whatsapp's reaction?

In response to the concerns raised by the government, Meta has issued a statement highlighting its ongoing “stay safe with WhatsApp” campaign. This initiative aims to educate users about the platform's inherent safety features, including two-step verification, block and report functionalities, as well as privacy controls. The company emphasises the importance of these tools in promoting user security.

Furthermore, Meta assured that it has enhanced its artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) systems to effectively reduce such incidents. The company also said it is committed to working closely with the government and acknowledges the government's recent Sanchaar Saathi initiative, which identified approximately 4 million mobile numbers involved in fraudulent activities.

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