Missed calls from abroad? Trai regulates ISD in prepaid phones

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday issued a directive to all operators to ensure that no ISD facility is activated on prepaid SIM without the explicit consent of the consumer.

The directive was sent to operators following complaints from consumers about fake missed calls from international numbers-often premium numbers-which prompted customers to call back. The telecom regulator has said that it had also received many complaints about SMSes from international numbers informing them about winning of prizes or lotteries and by responding to such calls and SMSes consumers had to pay unintended charges.

Threat from abroad. Reuters

"Trai issues direction on measures for addressing the menace of missed calls (wangiri calls) from international locations prompting customers to respond. With a view to protecting the interest of prepaid cellular mobile telephone service consumers from the menace of missed calls (wangiri calls) and calls relating to winning of prizes or lottery from international numbers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today issued a Direction to all Access Service Providers regarding provision of ISD facility to prepaid cellular mobile telephone service consumers and advisory to consumers through SMS at periodic intervals," the released signed by secretary, Rajeev Agarwal stated.

The Trai has been in discussion with the service providers and industry associations from October 2011, about implementation of measures for controlling the above menace and after considering the various options for addressing the problem, the authority felt that certain unscrupulous parties were exploiting the ISD facility provided on prepaid mobile services.

As of March 2012, according to Trai's indicator report, 96.87 percent of the 810.52 million GSM subscriber base was prepaid.

Apart from directing all service providers to ensure that no ISD facility is activated on a prepaid SIM without the explicit consent of the consumer; the authority has also directed them to inform all prepaid subscribers having ISD facility, through SMS and by 17 September, that the facility shall be discontinued after sixty days and that if subscribers wanted to continue with the facility, they needed to give their explicit approval for the same within 60 days of the receipt of the SMS.

The Trai has also told operators to inform all prepaid cellular users through SMS, by 17 September, not to respond to missed calls from unknown international numbers with prefix other than "+91" or calls or SMSes about winning prizes or lotteries. The operators have been told to inform users of the same every six months. It has also asked operators to provide an easy and transparent opt-in and opt-out facility to subscribers for activation or deactivation of ISD facility.

This directive has come almost a month after the Punjab police recovered 14 mobile phones, six operational SIM cards and several other broken SIM cards from the jail premises of the "high security" Nabha jail in Patiala, on 24 August.

" target="_blank">According to the Times of India, "As many as 1,000 phone calls, including international, were made in the last three months from the "high security" jail ....Calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) were also received from other countries."

The police called the inmates' bluff following the scrutiny of a call detail report (CDR). It was also revealed that many of the confiscated cell phones had photographs of the jail premises.

The TOI report cited police investigations as having found "that more than five SIMs were released on fake IDs while the remaining came on fake addresses. In some cases, addresses were right, but owners say they have never got these SIMs issued, while in other cases, all details were fake".

The high security Nabha jail has terrorists, including members of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) lodged inside it.

Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 11:54 AM

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