February 29, 2024

TRAI on Thursday said all principal entities, like banks, financial institutions, and others, need to complete the process of verification of message headers and content templates immediately, as the telecom regulator forged ahead with its drive to crackdown on pesky messages to safeguard consumers. Any delay on part of Principal Entities (PEs) to get the reverification of headers and content templates may result in the blocking of their headers, content templates and messages, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) cautioned.

TRAI said it will review the progress in the next two weeks and may issue suitable directions, if required.

“Therefore, all the PEs should complete the process of verification of Headers and Content Templates immediately,” TRAI said in a statement.

Entities such as banks, other financial institutions, insurance companies, trading companies, business entities etc. send commercial messages to the telecom subscribers through SMS, and these entities are referred to as Principal Entities (PEs) in TRAI regulations.

As per the regulatory framework, any commercial communication can only take place using registered Headers assigned to the PEs for this purpose. Header refers to an alphanumeric string assigned to PEs under the regulations to send commercial communications.

These commercial entities are required to get content templates registered with the access providers (telcos). Any commercial communication through SMS is subjected to scrubbing against the content template registered by PEs with Access Provider and, if it fails, then those SMSs are not allowed to be delivered to the consumers.

TRAI has observed that some PEs have registered a large number of Headers and Content Templates and, at times, some of these are misused by some telemarketers.

To stop the same, TRAI on February 16, 2023, directed for reverification of all registered Headers and Content Templates on DLT (Distributed ledger technology) platform and block all unverified Headers and Message Templates within 30 and 60 days respectively.

In February 2023, TRAI wrote to RBI, SEBI, NHA and all Central/State Government Departments requesting them to sensitise various institutions and departments, under their ambit, who send bulk SMS, about the action required to be taken at their end to ensure that header and message templates are not misused.

“It has been seen that many PEs have not yet completed the verification of Headers and Content Templates. Due to lack of timely action by PEs, Headers and Content Templates assigned to such PEs remain vulnerable for likely misuse and may result in inconvenience to the public in the form of spam and also financial frauds,” TRAI said.

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