In a bid to curb the menace of pesky text messages and safeguard consumers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has directed banks, financial institutions, and other principal entities to verify their message headers and content templates promptly. TRAI warns that any delay in this process may lead to the blocking of headers, content templates, and messages.
TRAI emphasized the urgency of the verification process and stated that all principal entities must complete the verification of headers and content templates immediately. The telecom regulator will review the progress within the next two weeks and may issue further directions if necessary.
Principal entities, including banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, trading companies, and other business entities, frequently send commercial messages to telecom subscribers via SMS. These entities are required to use registered headers assigned to them for this specific purpose, as per TRAI regulations. Headers are alphanumeric strings allocated to principal entities to facilitate commercial communication.
Additionally, commercial entities must register their content templates with access providers (telcos). SMSs containing commercial communication are subject to scrutiny against the content templates registered by principal entities. If a message fails this scrutiny, it is not delivered to the consumers.
TRAI has observed instances where some principal entities have registered a large number of headers and content templates, which are sometimes misused by telemarketers. To address this issue, on February 16, 2023, TRAI directed the reverification of all registered headers and content templates on the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) platform. Unverified headers and message templates were ordered to be blocked within 30 and 60 days, respectively.
In February 2023, TRAI reached out to regulatory bodies such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the National Health Authority (NHA), and all Central/State Government Departments. TRAI requested their cooperation in sensitizing institutions and departments under their purview, which send bulk SMS messages, regarding the necessary actions to prevent the misuse of headers and message templates.
TRAI expressed concern over the delay in the verification process by some principal entities. The failure to promptly verify headers and content templates leaves them vulnerable to potential misuse, leading to inconveniences for the public in the form of spam messages and even financial frauds.
As the fight against pesky texts intensifies, TRAI’s measures aim to strengthen regulations and ensure greater accountability among commercial entities. By tightening the verification process, TRAI aims to provide consumers with a more secure and streamlined messaging experience while reducing the risks associated with unsolicited communication.
Consumers can look forward to a significant reduction in spam messages and increased protection against financial scams as TRAI and various stakeholders work collectively to enforce these measures.