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Explained: How to stop pesky calls and SMSs

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Sep 26, 2011 at 07:23pm IST

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New Delhi: Don't want to be annoyed by unwanted commercial calls and SMSs? Here's all that you should know about Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) new regulations to give your mobile phone a little rest.

The new guidelines set by TRAI was supposed to be effective on February 1, 2011. After numerous delays the consumer facing regulations of The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations will finally roll into effect on September 27, 2011.

ALSO SEE No rethink on limit of 100 SMSes: TRAI

A new set of guidelines became necessary due to the limited success of TRAI's earlier initiatives. The National Do Not Call Registry was somewhat effective in reducing the number of unsolicited calls but indirectly led to an increase in the number of unsolicited SMSs landing in consumers' inboxes.

Explained: How to stop pesky calls and SMSs

Don't want to be annoyed by unwanted commercial calls and SMSs? Here's a guide.

Under the new guidelines consumers can choose their preference to receive or not to receive commercial communication from seven pre-defined categories. Commercial communications, other than transactional messages can only be sent to a consumer between 9 AM and 9 PM. Users also have the option to either block all commercial calls and SMSs or to block only commercial calls while receiving SMSs of their choice.

ALSO SEE 100 SMS-a-day limit to fight phone spam

Consumers have two choices, they can register in one of the two categories:

1. Fully blocked category: Consumers will not receive any commercial communication on their phones either as voice calls or SMSs.

ALSO SEE Full text: The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010

2. Partially blocked category: Consumer will not receive any voice calls, but can choose to receive SMSs on any or some or all from seven pre-defined subjects:

a. Banking/insurance/financial products/credit cards

ALSO SEE Relief from pesky calls, SMSes from Sept 27

b. Real estate

c. Education

d. Health

e. Consumer goods and automobiles

f. Communication/broadcasting/entertainment/IT

g. Tourism and leisure

For users already registered with the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC) do not have to re-register, their registration will automatically continue under the 'fully blocked' category.

The request for registration on the National Customer Preference Register (NCPR) will effective in seven days from the date of request for registration.

There are no charges involved in the registration, re-registration or change in registration process.

How to register

There are four ways to activate your choice:

1. Via SMS sent to 1909

2. Dial 1909 and register through IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System)

3. Dial 1909 and register with the help of a customer care executive

4. Through the websites of mobile service providers

Registration via SMS

To opt for the fully blocked category, send SMS "START 0" to 1909.

To opt for the partially blocked category, send SMS "Start [option]" to 1909. The options are explained:

- "START 1" for receiving SMS relating to banking/insurance/financial products/credit cards

- "START 2" for receiving SMS relating to real estate

- "START 3" for receiving SMS relating to education

- "START 4" for receiving SMS relating to health

- "START 5" for receiving SMS relating to consumer goods and automobiles

- "START 6" for receiving SMS relating to communication/broadcasting/entertainment/IT

- "START 7" for receiving SMS relating to tourism and leisure

To opt for multiple preferences from the categories send SMS "Start [option1, option2, option3,...]" to 1909. For example, for receiving commercial SMSs from banking/insurance/financial products/credit cards and real estate, send the SMS as "START 1, 2".

In case a preference "0" is mentioned in the SMS, it will override other preferences and will be treated as 'fully blocked.' For example, "START 0,1,7", will be considered as a fully blocked option.

On sending the SMS, users will receive a confirmation SMS and need to reply to the message to ensure the options chosen are implemented.

On receiving the confirmation SMS from the subscriber, the service provider will send another SMS indicating the user's preferences along with a unique registration number. It is advisable to save the unique registration number as this will serve as a reference for the subscriber's registration of preference.

Registration via IVRS

Consumers can call the toll-free number 1909 and then follow the instructions to indicate their choice of blocked voice calls and SMSs. On successful competition of the IVRS process the consumer will receive a confirmation SMS that also mentions the consumer's unique registration number.

Registration through customer care executive

Consumers can call the toll-free number 1909 and speak to a customer care executive to indicate their preferences. The consumer will receive a confirmation SMS along with their unique registration number.

Registration via service provider websites

Users can also log in to their respective access providers' websites to register their preferences.

List of mobile service providers' websites:

Aircel: http://www.aircel.com

Bharti Airtel: http://www.airtel.in/

BSNL: http://www.bsnl.co.in

HFCL: http://www.hfclconnect.com

IDEA: http://www.ideacellular.com

Loop Mobile: http://www.bplmobile.com

MTNL Delhi: http://www.mtnldelhi.in

MTNL Mumbai: http://mumbai.mtnl.net.in

Reliance Communication: http://www.rcom.co.in

Reliance Telecom: http://www.reliancemobile.com

Shyam: http://www.hellorainbow.com

Spice Punjab: http://spiceindia.com

Spice Karnatka: http://spicetele.com

Tata: http://tataindicom.com

Unitech: http://www.uninor.in

Videocon: http://www.videocon.com

Vodafone: http://www.vodafone.in

How to change preferences

Consumers can change their preferences after seven days of the date of registration or seven days after the last change of request. This can be done through any of the four methods described above, i.e., SMS, IVRS, customer care executive or online.

For changing preferences through SMS consumers will have to SMS "START [option]" to 1909 to receive communication on a certain category or "STOP [option]" to stop receiving messages from the indicated category. In case a consumers want to fully block all categories they can SMS "START 0" to 1909.

Users can alternately change their preferences via IVRS or speaking to a customer care executive by dialling 1909 or by visiting the mobile service providers' websites. On successful completion a confirmation SMS will be sent.

How to de-register

Consumers can opt out of the service through SMS by sending "STOP" to 1909. They can also call 1909 to de-register through IVRS or by speaking to the customer care executive.

How to register a complaint

If a consumers receives unsolicited commercial communication even after seven days of registering with the NCPR they can file a complaint either by SMS or dialling the toll-free number 1909.

To register a complaint via SMS a message in the format "COMP TEL NO XXXXXXXXXX, dd/mm/yy, Time hh:mm" to 1909, where "XXXXXXXXXX" is the telephone number or the ID from which the SMS was sent from and also mentioning the date and time when the unsolicited communication was received.

On submission of the complaint the user will be sent a unique complaint number through SMS and will be informed of the action taken on the complaint within seven days of the complaint booking.

The 100 SMS limit

TRAI has set a limit of 100 SMSs per SIM per day and not more than 3000 SMSs per post-paid number. But TRAI has said that it will exempt certain categories of SMSs from the limit, that could include festivals and other celebratory occasions. Telecom operators' lobby COAI asked the regulator to reconsider its recommendation to limit the number of SMSs per SIM to 100 per day, saying that such a regulation may pose a potential challenge to the "fundamental rights" of an ordinary subscriber. But TRAI says there is no plan to do away the restriction.

How to identify the source and type of a commercial text message

For sending the promotional messages, the telemarketers shall use alphanumeric identifier in the format XY-RZZZZZ where X stands for code allotted to Access provider, Y stands for service area, as specified by TRAI from time to time and R being any digit from 0 to 7, where 0 indicates that the SMS is commercial communication but does not belong to any preference specified, 1-7 indicates the preference specified by TRAI (1. Banking/Insurance/Financial products/credit cards, 2. Real Estate, 3. Education, 4. Health, 5. Consumer goods and automobiles, 6. Communication/Broadcasting/Entertainment/IT and 7. Tourism and leisure) and ZZZZZ indicates five digit unique identification code allotted to telemarketer by the access provider.

Also messages from a telemarketer shall be from the number series '140'.

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