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Home / News / India /  Paytm claims telecom firms not preventing phishing; HC seeks Centre, Trai response

New Delhi: The Delhi High court on Tuesday sought response from Centre, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), telecom majors BSNL, MTNL, Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Jio and others on a plea by Paytm alleging damage to its reputation due to "phishing" activities over mobile networks of these major telecom companies. The company claims that millions of its customers have been defrauded by the phishing activities over these mobile networks.

Paytm has sought damages of 100 crore from telcos for alleged damage to its brand and loss of goodwill.

The plea filed by One97 Communications Limited, which runs Paytm, alleges that such mass fraud is a direct result of the respondents flouting much of the legislative framework regulating commercial communication over telecom networks, i.e. the Telecommunication Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations, 2018 (TCCCPR, 2018’).

The plea alleges that despite repeated attempts of the petitioners at seeking redressal on behalf of its customers who have been defrauded of large sums of money, telcos have failed to discharge their statutory obligation under the TCCCPR 2018 which was notified by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to curb problem of unsolicited commercial communications.

As a result not only do the grievances of the customers of the petitioners and its associate companies/ group companies remain unaddressed, but they have suffered a loss in reputation and is being held liable by several customers for no fault of their own, the plea said.

“Phishing here consists offraudsters spamming the Petitioners’ customers by using telecom network architecture on a massive scale; through unsolicited commercial communications... they claim to be the Petitioners’ representatives, and induce the Petitioners’ customers to part with sensitive data that enables the fraudster to divert the customers’ funds to their own accounts," the plea reads.

“Under the statutory regime it is the responsibility ... and the exclusive ability of Telecommunications Service Providers to prevent such fraud and deter fraudsters through blocking and/ or financial disincentives," it added.

The petitioners have contented that the problem of unsolicited commercial communication has further been aggravated over the last few months after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen a proportionate rise in the proliferation of fraudulent message headers deceptively similar to the header used by the Petitioners and its associate companies /related parties/ group companies, containing the words “Paytm", “PTM" & “PYTM, and in the reporting of such instances.

The plea seeks TCCCPR 2018 be fully implemented so as to prevent/ minimize the unsolicited & fraudulent commercial communication being sent over the networks of the telecom companies.

It has been submitted by Paytm that TCCCPR places on the telcos a primary duty to preventany ‘unsolicited’ commercial communication being sent over its networks.

The plea seeks telcos to take effective action under TCCCPR 2018, to block the phone numbers of UTMs sending unsolicited commercial communication including through phone calls, to the Petitioners’ customers.

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