‘Do Not Call’ - How Does DNC Registry Work In India?

India has a population of 1.3 billion people, out of which 448.2 million people have access to phones and the internet.  Millions of calls are placed in a day among these users, both of national and international numbers. The progress of mobile technology has brought all products, services and even education to the doorstep of consumers, thanks to smartphones and the internet. The dependence of people on services such as phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp and other messaging platforms to communicate is growing, even more so during a global pandemic that has forced people to stay home. This spells a great opportunity for brands and organizations to establish a connection with their customer base through promotional and transactional SMS, messaging API as well as email API.

However, the lines of marketing and non-marketing based communications get blurred by organizations who constantly swarm the phones of users with unsolicited bulk SMS and calls at odd hours. This can be a nuisance to people, but falls under the purview of unfair trade practices as well. To keep the marketing and promotional activity of such brands from various sectors in check, the  Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or TRAI has established the National Do Not Call Registry, now known as the National Customer Preference Registry that any individual with a phone and a mobile network in India can sign up with. Also known as the Do Not Disturb Registry, the NDNC is a body that ensures the privacy of a mobile network user in India. If you wish to not receive marketing SMS from brands as promotions, you can visit their portal and activate your DND feature for your registered mobile number. This will block all bulk SMS from miscellaneous origins, phishing scams and other SMS from reaching you. However, the customers now have the chance to choose what sector or kind of SMS they block out. So, if you don’t wish to receive promotional SMS from the retails sector, but want to receive them from the Banking industry, the choice is left up to you.

In this blog, you will learn all there is to know about the Do Not Call Registry and how it works. Read on to know more!

The NDNC And Marketing
It was March 10, 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell rang up his assistant to say, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you”. It was the first phone call ever made.  The second phone call was made later that very evening. A telemarketer rang up asking if Mr. Dell resided there and if he wanted to buy some genuine snake oil.

Since then, marketing and phones have always gone hand in hand.

The second phone call would not surprise you as much as we all have had such experiences with telemarketers constantly flooding our phones for promotions.  Mobile users only felt some relief in the year 2007, when the National Do Not Call (NDNC) registry, now known as the National Customer Preference Register (NCPR) finally was established. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) established a national opt-in registry for phone users who didn’t want any spam messages and calls. Since 2007, over 230 million phone numbers have been registered with NCPR.

The Do Not Call Registry India helps you to easily opt-out of pesky marketing based promotional calls and messages sent to your mobile number, which thereby gives you a better handle over what kind of messages you receive on your landline or mobile phone and from who.

The primary objective of the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC) is to curb Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC).

According to the NDNC UCC is defined as “any message, through telecommunications service, which is transmitted for the purpose of informing about, or soliciting or promoting any commercial transaction in relation to goods, investments or services which a subscriber opts not to receive.”

The purview of TRAI’s NDNC Registry
TRAI’s NDNC Registry offers phone users the choice to opt-out from receiving marketing based calls and SMS from particular 7 categories, namely:

  1. Banking/Financial Products/ Insurance/Credit cards
  2. Real Estate
  3. Education
  4. Health
  5. Consumer Goods and Automobiles
  6. Entertainment/Broadcasting/Communication/IT
  7. Tourism and Leisure

There are a few sectors that do not come under the DND’s purview, which means you will receive such SMS and updates from these sectors. This is due to their essential nature that the TRAI has excluded them from the DND and DNC list. The sectors are as follows:

  1. Market Survey Or Research: Messages that are meant to conduct research among sample sizes and the general population sent from agencies collecting data.
  2. Promote Charitable Or Religious Causes: Messages with the request to donate to causes such as Save The Children, PM Cares, and various relief funds at times of domestic adversity.
  3. Personal Messages Sent By Individuals: Messages sent to you from a non-organizational number, i.e from another individual, who may or may not be your contact. If an organization is caught using personal numbers and not commercial Sender IDs for marketing messages, they will be heavily penalized.
  4. Public Messages Sent By Government Agencies: Messages meant for the public at large such as curfews, emergency announcements, and other updates for public welfare.
  5. Political Messages: Political campaigns, requests to vote, voter registration information and other updates.

This means that users may be free of generic marketing calls, but will still receive marketing based SMS and communication from the organizations mentioned above.

How Does DNC or DND Get Activated?

To add your number to NDNC Do Not Call Register India, you have to send an SMS to 1909.

You will instantly receive an SMS confirming your registration with the NDNC list while it may take up to 7 days for the DND to reach activation on your number. If you don’t receive any confirmation call from TRAI, try calling 1909 and then follow the instructions given. For instance, if you wish to stop receiving calls and SMS from Consumer Goods and Automobiles, send the SMS “STOP 5” to 1909.

How Long Does The Do Not Call Registry Last?
The registration with NDNC once is enough, since your registration does not expire until you voluntarily take your number off their list.

What If I Still Receive UCC Calls After Registration?
If your number still receives an unsolicited marketing message or call after 31 days of registration, you can make a Do Not Call Registry Complaint India to the service provider through voice call, or contact the NDNC at 1909 again.

When users give out their contact number to brands and organizations while signing-up or making purchase transactions, TRAI notes that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the users have consented to receive marketing information. So, such organizations will always ask you for explicit consent to send you marketing and promotional messages, with the choice to opt-out of receiving them at any time. Also, such consent lasts for only a period of 60 days, which means that the brand needs to reconfirm the consent to send marketing messages and no response means opting out.

Marketers caught sending unsolicited commercial messages and calls with a user that has opted not to receive such communications can face a penalty of Rs. 500 per call/SMS as well as disconnection of their telephone services.

Now that you are aware of the NCPR and what can be done to stop your phone from being spammed with promotional messages and calls.  However,  if you wish to receive promotional messages from certain brands and companies, you are required to give them your explicit consent, which can be done while signing up for their portals, while making a purchase, and more opportunities where the organization will give you prompts. Only the organizations that have obtained your consent may then send marketing messages to your mobile phone number, even if it is registered with the DNC Registry. To conclude, we hope you have the information required to make informed choices when it comes to marketing communications and the NDNC.