Rs 110 Crore Fine Imposed on Mobile Operators for Nuisance Calls

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New Delhi, 6th February 2024: In a determined move to tackle the escalating issue of pesky calls and financial frauds, the Indian government has cracked down on mobile operators, imposing a substantial fine of Rs 110 crore as a “financial disincentive.” Telecom regulator Trai spearheaded this initiative, aiming to alleviate the nuisance faced by mobile users.

Notably, the government’s efforts have not only addressed the annoyance of incessant calls but also thwarted cybercriminals, saving an impressive amount of nearly Rs 1,000 crore. Approximately four lakh users have benefited from government intervention, successfully recovering their money.

Providing comprehensive details of the substantial actions taken against pesky calls and fraudulent telecom operations, the government revealed that it has severed 55.5 lakh mobile connections obtained through fake or forged documents. This strategic move resulted in the freezing of almost 9.9 lakh bank accounts and payment wallets associated with connections acquired through fraudulent means.

Minister of State for Communications, Devusinh Chauhan, shared significant statistics with the Rajya Sabha. A staggering 2.8 lakh mobile connections were disconnected due to their involvement in cybercrime or financial frauds, as reported by law enforcement agencies through the National Cyber Crime reporting portal. Additionally, 1.3 lakh connections were blocked for similar reasons.

As a consequence of the crackdown on mobile connections, a noteworthy 2.2 lakh WhatsApp accounts, linked to the disconnected mobile connections obtained with fake or forged documents, were disengaged. The government’s rigorous actions have been a response to telecom companies’ perceived failure to curb the influx of unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) plaguing millions of mobile users, despite existing countermeasures proving largely ineffective.

Minister Chauhan emphasized the measures taken to protect consumers from pesky calls and spam messages. He highlighted the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018, issued by Trai, allowing users to block commercial communications selectively or entirely.

Since 2019, the government has blacklisted over 20 telemarketers, around 500 principal entities sending SMSs, more than 3,000 SMS headers, and 40,000 content templates for sending phishing SMS or UCC. In compliance with Trai regulations, telecom companies have temporarily deactivated over four lakh headers and more than 11 lakh content templates to prevent the transmission of promotional messages through unregistered or unauthorized telemarketers.

Furthermore, the government conducted an AI/ML-based analysis, leading to the removal of more than 20,000 principal entities and 1.95 lakh SMS content templates. These collective efforts demonstrate a robust commitment to curbing the menace of pesky calls and safeguarding the interests of mobile users.