India’s top seven public and private sector banks were rapped by the telecom regulator on Monday for persisting with marketing calls and SMS made through unregistered telemarketers.
Those hauled up are Axis Bank, Citi, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra, Punjab National Bank and State Bank of India. A Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) release has threatened to cut off their telephone lines.
“Seven banks have been found to be flouting regulations by marketing their products and services through unregistered telemarketers. These banks have been directed to look into the specific cases of breach, initiate corrective action and report back to the Authority within a period of seven days, failing which the banks are liable to have all their telecom resources disconnected throughout the country,” the release said.
Trai had issued norms last month that said phone connections of companies which sent messages through unregistered telemarketers would be disconnected in case the norms laid out were violated.
The new rules issued by the authority include a fine of Rs 5,000 per complaint on the banks if it was found that the unsolicited communication was made by unregistered telemarketers using its network.
An SBI official said, “The bank is looking into the matter.” Other banks whom The Indian Express spoke were unwilling to comment on the issue. “Please wait for one or two days. We have to get details,” said an official of a private bank.
The Reserve Bank of India, too, had directed banks and financial institutions in a notification issued in July this year that they should engage “only those telemarketers who are registered in terms of the guidelines issued by Trai for all their promotional/ telemarketing activities” and asked for strictly compliance with the guidelines.
The Trai release also said that it has taken the action because it still continues to receive a large number of complaints from consumers against banks, insurance companies, builders, etc for making such calls or SMS through unregistered telemarketers.