Block Unsolicited SMSes on Stock Tips: Trai to Telcos
Kolkata: The telecom regulator, at the insistence of the Securities & Exchange Board of India (Sebi), has asked telecom operators to block unsolicited and misleading bulk text messages relating to investment tips in the securities market to protect unsuspecting mobile users-cum-investors.
“Sebi has expressed concern about misleading and unsolicited text messages to investors in the securities market by unauthorised persons,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said in a statement on Thursday.
The market regulator, it said, “had brought to Trai’s notice that unscrupulous persons or entities, masquerading as Sebi-registered investment advisors are sending bulk text messages relating to investment tips to telecom users for financial gains by manipulating the securities market”.
Accordingly, the telecom regulator has asked operators to block such text messages sent by telemarketers that are in the nature of investment tips containing key words relating to securities such as “sell, hold, accumulate, target, followed by scrip name/code provided by any stock exchange”.
Trai has, in fact, directed telcos to ensure that investment tips only from Sebi-registered investment advisors, stock-brokers, portfolio managers and merchant bankers are allowed transmission through the mobile network SMS channel.
Such text messages from Sebi-registered investment advisors, it said, shall only be sent “as a transactional message either directly or through a registered telemarketer”. The telecom regulator also said such text messages must “not be promotional” in nature.
Text messages “relating to investment advice sent by a telemarketer not registered with Trai shall be filtered and blocked,” the sector regulator added.
Reports of rogue market operators and fraudsters taking ignorant mobile users for a ride with unsolicited text messaged offers promising huge financial gains has lately galvanised the capital market regulator to explore closer coordination with RBI and Trai.
Sebi typically relies on call data records from the telecom companies and financial transaction statements from banks in its probe against such cases of frauds, where investors are lured into depositing money into designated bank accounts with promise of huge returns.
Small wonder, the sector regulator said its latest directive to phone companies was triggered by the “lack of reliable information on the identity of miscreants/ senders of such unsolicited bulk text messages, which has posed insurmountable hurdles for Sebi to expedite corrective action.
Tips with key words such as “sell, hold, accumulate, target, followed by scrip name/code provided by any bourse asked to be blocked