The telecom regulator is believed to have asked telecom service providers to discontinue their services to banks in cases where it has received complaints against unregistered telemarketers selling the banks’ products.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is understood to have notified all service providers to disconnect the telecom lines of about half a dozen entities, mainly banks, as complaints pertaining to non-compliant telemarketing calls were being received from customers.

According to TRAI guidelines, financial institutions (banks, insurers and non-banking finance companies), builders and other entities could face the prospect of disconnection of all their telecom resources if they are found to be engaged in telemarketing through unregistered telemarketers.

Further, the guidelines require the name and address of the telephone subscriber to be shared with all other service providers.

No service provider will provide any telecom resource in that name and address for a period of two years.

SBI acts

State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, has moved to protect its interests. It has warned unregistered telemarketers/ persons/ entities to desist from making unsolicited commercial calls (UCCs), failing which they would face severe consequences, including criminal charges being filed against them.

SBI said it does not engage unregistered telemarketers for marketing its products/ services.

A senior Bank of Baroda official said, public sector banks, normally, do not engage unregistered telemarketers.

It is banks and insurance companies in the private sector which engage telemarketers to aggressively push their products/services.

Banks are in talks with the telecom regulator to sort out the issue of engaging telemarketers, who are compliant with the regulatory guidelines, the official said.

Pending resolution of the issue, the telecom service providers are unlikely to disconnect banks’ telecom services as it could seriously jeopardise transactions.

Why they masquerade

According to TRAI, the reasons why the unregistered telemarketers mask themselves as normal subscribers are: no need to pay one-time registration fee; save on additional five paise per SMS that a registered telemarketer incurs on every promotional message and the ability to reach out to even those customers who have made the ‘do not call’ choice under the TRAI’s national customer call preference registry.