Govt cracks down on SMS scammers; blacklists principal entities found spewing fraud messages

PTI, May 27, 2024, 9:05 PM IST

New Delhi: In a major crackdown on SMS scammers, the government has blacklisted “principal entities” behind SMS headers that were used for sending over 10,000 fraudulent messages over the past three months, according to an official release.

The Department of Telecom (DoT), in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has taken decisive action to protect citizens from potential SMS fraud through the Sanchar Saathi initiative, it said.

Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) under MHA provided information about the misuse of eight SMS headers for sending fraudulent communications for committing cybercrime.

It was noted that more than 10,000 fraudulent messages were sent using these eight headers in the past three months. The principal entities which were the owners of these eight SMS headers have been blacklisted.

“Principal entities” in telecom parlance refer to business or legal entities sending out commercial messages to telecom subscribers through SMS. A header means an alphanumeric string assigned to a “principal entity” to send commercial communications.

All the 73 SMS Headers and 1,522 SMS content templates owned by these principal entities were also blacklisted.

“None of these principal entities, SMS headers or templates can now be used to send SMS…”, it said.

The DoT has prevented further potential victimisation of citizens by blacklisting these entities, and reiterated its commitment to safeguarding citizens against cybercrime.

“Citizens can report suspected fraud communications at Chakshu facility on Sanchar Saathi to help DoT in prevention of misuse of telecom resources for cyber-crime and financial frauds”, the release said.

It warned that use of mobile numbers for telemarketing activities is not permitted.

If a consumer uses their telephone connection to send promotional messages, their connection will be liable for disconnection on the first complaint, and their name and address may be blacklisted for a period of two years.

Telemarketing calls can be identified by their prefixes: 180, 140, it said asserting that 10-digit numbers are not permitted for telemarketing.

“To report spam, dial 1909 or use the DND (Do Not Disturb) service”, the release added.

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