Hyderabad: For the last few days, a few video clips of Maharashtra police requesting the public not to answer phone calls coming from the numbers starting with 140 or +91140 were being shared. If answered, the police personnel warned that their mobiles will be hacked and they would lose all the money in their bank accounts.

archive links of the claims can be found here, here and here.

Newsmeter also received requests from readers to fact check the social media posts.

Fact Check

The police warning the public is true but the claim that the public would lose the money from bank accounts if they answer the calls is FALSE.

In the first week of July 2020, the public in Hindi speaking states received phone calls from numbers starting with +91140 like +911408970061, +911408854218, +911408800135, +911408900071, +911408854209, etc and they complained to the police and cried foul on social media.

They have received a call from a worried man, who claimed that his name is Rishi and that he had witnessed a murder and that he filmed it on his mobile phone. As the murderers found that he has evidence, they are after him now and asked help from those receiving the calls.

Many of those receiving the call could not understand who that Rishi was and why was seeking their help in particular. It took them some time to understand that it was a recorded promotion campaign of the program ‘Undekhi’ on Sony Liv.

Then receivers of the recorded promotional call complained to police about the publicity gimmick by Sony Liv and demanded action against it. After a warning from the Maharashtra police and in response to the outcry by the public, Sony Liv tendered an apology and stopped the promotion.

In the meanwhile, some overenthusiastic police officers of Maharashtra started to warn the public not to answer phone calls coming from the numbers starting with 140 or +91140. They tried to convince the public with the best reason saying they would lose all their money in the bank accounts.

However, the Maharashtra Cyber police rubbished the claims by the police personnel and informed the public that the numbers starting with 140 are of telemarketers. They also advised the public to not share confidential bank details including the OTPs with anybody.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has made several amendments to the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010 in the due course. In the sixth amendment dated September 5, 2011, the 140 series is allocated for the telemarketers for a fixed network. The Telemarketers can be registered with the service provider than at the TRAI, as per the regulations modified in 2018.

The numbers starting with the 140 are from telemarketers and the public can complain about Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC) by the telemarketers with the National Customer Preference Register and to TRAI if required.

So, the claims that the answering of calls from numbers starting with 140 or +91140 hacking the mobile phones and emptying the bank accounts is FALSE.

Dharmasena NN

NN Dharmasena is a nom de guerre for a journalist who is working for web, TV, and print media in Telugu and English languages for nearly two decades. He is a Google News Initiative certified fact-checker and believes that a little common sense saves the people from falling prey to false information.

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