Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tips to guard against pesky calls, phoney bills

Rupa Paul Choudhury, advisor, Trai, regional office, Calcutta, highlighted the following points that phone users need to be aware of —
► It is mandatory for every mobile phone service provider to have a top-up of Rs 10 for its prepaid facility.
► Users of prepaid mobile connections do not receive monthly bills and hence do not get their call records. But they too can access call records of the past six months on request.
► All service providers must have a toll-free number for assistance. For instance, it is 198 for Vodafone and Airtel.
► When a caller dials a helpline number he usually hears recorded messages asking him to dial a number for his language of preference, for his type of problem etc. Trai has imposed that the Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) should ensure that a caller has an option to speak to a customer care representative no later than the third level.
► Mobile portability allows a user to change his service provider while retaining the same mobile phone number. This service is available within a state at present but talks are on to ensure pan-India portability soon.
► To stop pesky text messages selling insurance, credit card etc. phone users are to send a toll free SMS to 1909. This number is common to all service providers. To block such messages, type START 0 to 1909. The messages will be blocked within seven days.
► There is also an option to allow SMSes of specific categories while blocking all others. For this your options are 1 for banking related items, 2 for real estate, 3 for education, 4 for health, 5 for consumer good and automobiles, 6 for entertainment and 7 for tourism and leisure. So for instance, if you only want messages on education, type START 3 to 1909.
► If you continue to get such messages even after a week, forward them to 1909. Make sure you include the message senders’ phone numbers and the date the messages were sent to you. These number will get disconnected or fined. Statistics say the condition has improved since this Do Not Disturb facility was enforced.
► )Whether or not you have opted for the Do Not Disturb facility, note the phone number you receive marketing messages from. If it is an alpha-numeric phone number then the sender has registered with Trai as a tele-marketer but if it is a regular 10-digit number it is not registered and is not allowed to send such messages. You can complain against them.
► Five days in a year are earmarked as “Blackout Days”. On these days, no free or concessional calls and text messages will be allowed. Different service providers observe different days as Blackout Days such as December 31, Bengali New Year, Vijaya Dashami, Holi etc. But the consumer has to be informed about these beforehand.
► At times, value-added services such as caller tunes, cricket scores or horoscope updates reach a consumer without him having signed up for them. In such a case lodge a complaint quickly so your money can be credited back. This applies for direct broadcast satellite television providers like Tata Sky too.
► Consumers sometimes get text messages saying they have won a lottery and that they have to call up a particular number to claim their prize. This call costs him a bomb and there is, of course, no lottery money to be won. The trick is to not respond to any unknown number that does not begin with the Indian code +91 as most of the fraudulent numbers are from abroad.
► Some people approach households offering to pay a huge sum of money to let them install a mobile tower on their terrace. They then ask the households for money to get licences for the same. While it is fine for people to install mobile towers, beware so such frauds as the households are to pay no money for the installations.
► If you are concerned about harmful radiation from mobile towers in your neighbourhood, lodge a complain with the Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System on the website The department of telecom will then look into the problem within 40 days. There is also an option to track the status of your grievance online.
India follows safety guidelines recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection and the radiation emitted by mobile towers here have to be within the said limits. Once you complain, the authorities will check the radiation from the tower in question. If the radiation levels exceed norms, the service provider could be heavily penalised.
► Since September 2013, the government has set a maximum Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value for mobile handset radiation. So next time you buy a mobile phone, check the SAR value, which should not exceed 1.6watts/kg radiation.
► For further clarification, visit the Trai website The office is at Plot XI- 5 and 6, EP-GP Block, Sector V, Salt Lake, and contact number is 23571404/5.

The above is from The Telegraph

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