With reports about some companies, agencies and individuals fraudulently asking people to deposit money in their account as tax under the Telecom Act for leasing their premises for installation of mobile towers, the Centre has decided to act tough against the mobile tower mafia. From establishing a National Consumer Helpline to reaching out to the people by using mobile phone messages and social media, the stakeholders are set to go all out against the scamsters.
The action also comes with reports suggesting that the lure of extra money as rent from installation of telecom towers on their premises during the challenging COVID-19 period has gone up massively. A spurt in cases has been reported in states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra among others which has jolted the telecom operators, tower companies, the government and the regulators to put up a concerted effort to stop this menace, said a Telecom Ministry source.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) through public outreach program has already initiated warnings to people to be safe from the fraudsters.
TRAI has advised victims to take up the matter with the law enforcing agencies.
“It is time to reach out to the people using mobile phone messages and social media with a powerful alert message against the tower fraud at least once a week. All stakeholders need to go on a mission mode, to educate consumers,” said Prof NK Goyal, Adviser Gujarat Technological University. Goyal is also Vice Chairman at International Telecom Union, Asia Pacific Telecommunity (ITU-APT).
Fraudsters are collecting money in the name of TRAI for installation of mobile towers. In a notice issued recently, TRAI said it has been brought to its notice that some companies, agencies and individuals are fraudulently asking people to deposit money in their account as tax under the Telecom Act for leasing their premises for installation of mobile towers.
“The Telecom industry will continue its fight to counter this fraud.
Our commitment to end the tower fraud is as determined as our resolve to offer the best quality of service to our consumers. Just as the industry is working to fight COVID-19 from spreading any further, so we strive to ensure there is correct information available to the public. Telecom Operators are executing a slew of measures as per the guidance of the sector regulator in this regard.
In our efforts to provide better quality of services to customers and maintain the reliability of our networks at 99.99% of the time, installation of new towers is a critical ingredient. Tower frauds hamper these efforts and ultimately hurt both customers and Operators. We must all work together to ensure this malice is eradicated," said Rajan S Mathews, Director General COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India).
There are around 5,90,000 tower which provides seamless connectivity to 1,200 million subscribers.
“The telecom Infrastructure providers will continue its fight against the fraudsters. A concerted effort has been taken to caution the general public. We will take more specific initiatives in consultation with our members,” said T R Dua, Director General TAIPA (Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association).
To report fraud cases or guidance against such attempts, the National Consumer Helpline is available for the public to call from anywhere in India at 14404 or 1800-11-4000. People can also register the complaint at www.consumerhelpline.gov.in.