Block Un­so­licited SMSes on Stock Tips: Trai to Tel­cos

The Economic Times - - Companies - Our Bureau

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

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