IRCTC toughens up; blocks lakhs of user accounts

Respite in railway bookings
Indian Railway catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has enhanced its cyber-surveillance in an attempt to curb black marketing of tickets being booked online.

The IRCTC, which has given separate user IDs to agents, had barred the agents from booking 'tatkal' tickets from their accounts between 8 am and 9 am after a lot of consumers reported that they found it difficult to book tickets online. However, a lot of agents found a way around this by creating multiple 'general' user IDs (similar to what the average consumer possesses) and started cornering tickets, and then selling them at exorbitant profits. In a bid to stop the growing malpractice, IRCTC has blocked 4.6 lakh user IDs and 71,484 email IDs since March.

Reports suggest that it was in March that IRCTC had first registered complaints about irregular booking practices on its online booking portal and has since then had a team dedicated to weeding out the guilty personnel. Many agents had acquired software that allowed them to book tickets within seconds, after their authorized accounts had been barred for use between 8 am and 9 am.

According to IRCTC officials, the primary distributor of the said software has already been arrested and IRCTC is individually verifying any account with suspicious activity by calling the customers up.

As part of improving safety measures, the government entity has limited the number of bookings per individual account to 2 per day and no user can book more than 10 tickets in a month. Also, the rule that prohibits agents from using the online portal for an hour after it opens at 8 am in the morning still stands.

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