The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has imposed penalties worth Rs 35 crore on telcos, including BSNL and MTNL, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, for allowing fake text messages on their networks, which were allegedly used to dupe customers. Other companies that have been fined are Videocon, Quadrant Teleservices and Tata Teleservices.
Trai imposed the highest Rs 30.1 crore fine on state-owned BSNL. Despite reminders, the telco also failed to respond to Trai show-cause notices. The regulator imposed Rs 1.82 crore fine on Vi; Rs 1.41 crore on Quadrant; and Rs 1.33 crore on Airtel.
The decision to impose fine on telcos is a big boost to the campaign run by Paytm-led e-payment companies against spam calls and fake text messages. During a September hearing in the case, the Delhi High Court had directed Trai to take action against entities and persons not complying with its regulations to curb the problem of unsolicited commercial communications.
Trai on Tuesday told the Delhi HC that it has imposed financial disincentives ranging from Rs 34,000 to Rs 30 crore on telecom companies for not preventing UCC between April to June 2020.
Paytm had earlier told the court that unregistered players are operating on a large scale leading to frauds to the tune of Rs 1-2 crore being committed against its customers every month.
Paytm, in its plea filed through advocate Karuna Nandy, had claimed that millions of its customers have been defrauded by the phishing activities over the mobile networks and the failure of the telecom companies to prevent the same has "caused financial and reputational loss" to it for which it has sought damages of Rs 100 crore from them.