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TRAI, Telcos Abetting Telemarketers, Claims PayTM

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Most cellphone users are aware that the do-not-disturb or DND that telecom companies are required to provide to customers as per a Supreme Court order is somewhat of a joke. There is hardly anyone who doesn’t get unsolicited calls via the network. Now, PayTM has added to it by suggesting that even they are facing the curse of spam calls and text messages. 

The digital payments company actually castigated both the telecom companies as well as their regulator TRAI for the menace. In a rejoinder filed before the Delhi High Court, PayTM said the networks and the regulator had failed to curb the menace of spam and fraud text messages from unregistered telemarketers. That too, despite regulations existing to curb them. 

A report in the Economic Times said PayTM named cellular network providers Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and BSNL in the rejoinder which said these companies had failed to meet the verification obligation under the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR) which caused the digital payments company’s customers getting duped. 

The company also shared a list of over 500 instances since the first of June where its customers were defrauded to the tune of Rs.1.1 crore. PayTM held the view that these instances disproved the telcos’ claim that unregistered communication was not flowing through their networks since the said date when blockchain technology was supposed to have gone live. 

Just in case you came in late, these submissions are part of a legal tussle between PayTM parent One97 Communications against the telecom companies. The company had petitioned the Court early in June alleging that telcos weren’t doing enough to block fraudsters from phishing. 

They further alleged that these phishing attacks were being carried out by both registered as well as unregistered telemarketing companies. While 25 complaints were from the latter, as many as 21 came from registered entities, with more than half the total number coming via state-owned BSNL, which PayTM said “remains the biggest defaulter of TCCCPR provisions.” 

What was more shocking is that PayTM provided details of 30 companies sending fraud content and some of the names emerging on them were respected ones such as Tata Communications, Bharti Airtel, and Reliance Retail. This is indeed a matter of serious concern where Court orders are being flouted blatantly by the players who’s quest for revenues impinges on customer angst. 

The reason for this blatant disregard is not tough to fathom. As PayTM says in its rejoinder the low level of penalties for violations under the TCCCPR is what allows both telcos and others to flout the rules. Remember how state governments voluntarily reduced the traffic offense fines on grounds that it was “too high” suggesting inadvertently that it is okay to break the rules. 

The documents submitted by PayTM also said there were several repeat offenders. Out of 5407 mobile numbers sending unsolicited communication, 50 were reported for doing so not just twice but even three times. It further pointed out that phishing was being done by three of Airtel’s own headers, which points to a severe breach of the legal provision.  

Looks like the matter is getting out of hand as unscrupulous businesses create unsolicited communications based on dubious reasons that telcos seem to find to bolster their revenues, which ironically has taken a beating in recent years due to an unholy price war. Not to mention the government’s decision to eke out lakhs of crores from them as penalty over licensing dues. 


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