73% Indians get 4 or more unwanted SMS every day


  • ● 74% of citizens say still get spam SMS despite registering on TRAI’s ‘Do Not Call Registry’
  • ● 14% spam SMS in the last 12 months about earning money
  • ● Only minor reduction observed in volume of unsolicited SMS received by citizens in last 2 years

DND not working - 73% Indians get 4 or more spam SMS’ each day

DND not working - 73% Indians get 4 or more spam SMS’ each day

March 10, 2021, New Delhi: After SMS and OTP disruptions were reported for banking, payment and other transactions, the TRAI for 7 days suspended the implementation of norms for commercial text messages or SMS which came into effect on Monday March 8th. TRAI on March 9th 2021, informed that it has observed that some of the Principal Entities (PE) have not fulfilled the requirements as envisaged in Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR), 2018 and as a result their SMS were getting dropped after scrubbing by Telecom Service Providers (TSP). TRAI added that this was to protect the consumer from inconvenience faced due to not receiving these messages.

However, what that means is that the consumers will continue to receive spam SMS messages for the coming week and if TRAI extends the same, for even a longer period. LocalCircles in 2019 had conducted its first survey on unsolicited or spam SMS and had escalated it to the regulator for action. Post that, the TRAI in June 2020, issued a list of registered telemarketers and their short message service (SMS) codes that are used for UCC so that subscribers can raise grievances directly against telemarketers who harass them via such SMSs. The regulator directed telecom operators to run advertising campaigns to raise awareness among subscribers about facilities to complain against such spam messages. It even imposed a financial disincentive of INR 30 crore on telecom companies like BSNL, Reliance Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone for not preventing unsolicited commercial communications (UCC) over their networks between April and June 2020, per report citing TRAI as informing the Delhi High Court. Telecom operators have announced that they will filter out commercial SMSs with unregistered content to check spam messages sent to subscribers. There are claims of blockchain-based technology being deployed made wherein any entity using telecom operators with a unique header ID to send messages will have to submit content templates of SMSs on the platform and telcos would block any messages originating from an unregistered header.

LocalCircles has now conducted a follow on survey to check the citizen pulse on unwanted and spam SMS, to understand if there’s been an increase in UCC and if Regulator’s “do not disturb, or DND” initiative has been any effect at all. Also, citizens’ opinion on spam SMSs was compared with previously conducted surveys to understand the change over time. The survey received more than 35,000 responses from citizens located in 324 districts of India.

In the first question, citizens were asked how many unwanted SMS they receive every day on average? 37% said they receive 4-7 messages every day, 36% said 8 or more, 25% said 1-3, while only 2% said they don’t get unwanted SMS at all. Per aggregate votes of citizens indicated that 73% get 4 or more unwanted SMSs every day. The question to the survey received 7,632 votes. In the last 2 years, there’s been a minor reduction in the volume of unsolicited SMS received by citizens, which could be attributed to lockdowns and office shutdowns.

73% citizens say they get 4 or more unwanted SMS every day

73% citizens say they get 4 or more unwanted SMSs every day

Minor reduction observed in volume of unsolicited SMS received by consumers in last 2 years; 73% still get 4 or more per day

Minor reduction observed in volume of unsolicited SMS received by consumers in last 2 years; 73% still get 4 or more per day

74% citizens say they still get unwanted SMS despite being registered on Do Not Disturb (DND) list; minor reduction observed in the volume of unsolicited SMS received by citizens in last 2 years while 73% still get 4 or more per day

Many people face issues of unwanted telemarketing messages and calls made to them by fraudsters, spammers, telemarketers, despite registering on TRAI’s Do Not Call Registry (NDNS). More shocking is the news of around 93 million phone numbers registered with the TRAI’s “Do Not Call Registry (NDNS)” kept on sale on the Darknet in February 2020. LocalCircles survey finds that 74% of mobile subscribers still receive unwanted SMS despite registering for the Do Not Disturb (DND) list. Only 4% said they do not get them. 18% said they’re not registered on the DND list and 4% said they don’t even know that a DND list exists.

In the last 2 years, more citizens complain of getting unsolicited SMS despite being registered on the DND list. According to the telecom regulator, as of May 2018, there were 23 crore mobile subscribers registered with the DND registry. LocalCircles survey finds that 74% of mobile subscribers still receive unwanted SMS despite registering for the Do Not Disturb (DND) list. Only 4% said they do not get them. 18% said they’re not registered on the DND list and 4% said they don’t even know that a DND list exists. In the last 2 years, more citizens complain of getting unsolicited SMS despite being registered on the DND list.

74% citizens say they still get unwanted SMS despite being registered on Do Not Disturb (DND) list

74% citizens say they still get unwanted SMS despite being registered on Do Not Disturb (DND) list

Minor reduction observed in volume of unsolicited SMS received by consumers in last 2 years; 73% still get 4 or more per day

Minor reduction observed in volume of unsolicited SMS received by consumers in last 2 years; 73% still get 4 or more per day

26% citizens say at least a quarter of the unwanted SMS come from the mobile service provider itself; Unwanted SMSs sent by mobile service providers reduce in the last 2 years

Per TRAI, the number of registered telemarketers is roughly estimated to be around 7,500 as of August 2019, while there are lakhs of unregistered ones, including fraudsters and spammers. Till May 2019, TRAI disconnected 18,19,470 unregistered telemarketers and blacklisted another 5,89,589. Per LocalCircles survey, 26% of citizens say at least a quarter of unwanted SMS messages that they receive are sent by their mobile service providers. 43% said this number was between 0 and 25%. Other 21% of citizens said none of these are from the service providers, while 10% were unsure about it. The survey result indicated that there’s been some reduction in unwanted SMSs sent by mobile service providers in the last 2 years; however, citizens continue to face the issue.

26% citizens say atleast a quarter of the unwanted SMS come from the mobile service provider itself

26% citizens say atleast a quarter of the unwanted SMS come from the mobile service provider itself

Unwanted SMSs sent by mobile service providers reduce in the last 2 years

Unwanted SMSs sent by mobile service providers reduce in the last 2 years

Banking, Insurance, Real Estate, Local Services and Earning Money offers primary drivers for spam SMS; Banking, Insurance, Real Estate, Local Services SMSs reduce while Earning Money offers increase in the last 2 years

SMS is a low-cost way of sending information across citizens and is hence very popular among businesses. Right from a multi-million-dollar insurance company to a newly opened food stall across the road, many businesses use SMSs to reach out to the customer in search of getting more business. The following question asked citizens the category under which they receive the most promotional SMSs. Of whom, 26% said real estate offers, 26% said banking and insurance offers, 15% said local (health, medical, beauty, etc.) offers, 14% said earning offers, 9% said telecom or mobile service offers, while 6% said others (eCommerce, telecom, etc.). The survey result indicated that unwanted SMS related to Banking, Insurance, Real Estate, Local Services reduce, while Earning money offers increased in the last 2 years.

Banking, Insurance, Real Estate, Local Services and Earning Money offers primary drivers for spam SMS

Banking, Insurance, Real Estate, Local Services and Earning Money offers primary drivers for spam SMS

Unwanted SMS related to Banking, Insurance, Real Estate, Local Services reduce while Earning Money offers increase in the last 2 years

Unwanted SMS related to Banking, Insurance, Real Estate, Local Services reduce while Earning Money offers increase in the last 2 years

LocalCircles will be sharing the findings of this pan India survey with TRAI and the Department of Telecommunications so that necessary actions can be taken and citizen awareness can be raised against unsolicited SMSs sent to subscribers.

Survey Demographics

35,000+ responses were received from citizens residing in 324 districts of India. 66% respondents were men while 34% respondents were women. 51% respondents were from tier 1, 28% from tier 2 and 21% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.

About LocalCircles

LocalCircles, India’s leading Community Social Media platform enables citizens and small businesses to escalate issues for policy and enforcement interventions and enables Government to make policies that are citizen and small business centric. LocalCircles is also India’s # 1 pollster on issues of governance, public and consumer interest. More about LocalCircles can be found on https://www.localcircles.com

For more queries - media@localcircles.com, +91-8585909866

All content in this report is a copyright of LocalCircles. Any reproduction or redistribution of the graphics or the data therein requires the LocalCircles logo to be carried along with it. In case any violation is observed LocalCircles reserves the right to take legal action.

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