Indian Government Announces Discontinuation of Call Forwarding Services Amid Rising Fraud Concerns

Telecom Department Takes Swift Action to Address Online Fraud, Users Advised to Re-evaluate Call Forwarding Settings


The Indian government has made a significant decision affecting mobile users across the country, announcing the discontinuation of call forwarding services from April 15th onwards.

In a recent notice issued by the Telecom Department, users who have activated USSD-based call forwarding services may be required to re-activate these services through optional methods.

With the rising cases of online fraud in the country, the government has swiftly taken action to address the escalating issue. The Telecom Department has directed all telecom companies, including Airtel and Jio, to cease call forwarding services using USSD codes. According to this directive, call forwarding services on smartphones will be disabled after April 15th, 2024.

Understanding USSD Codes and Call Forwarding Services

USSD codes are short codes dialed by mobile users to check balance or IMEI numbers. Essentially, USSD allows users to activate or deactivate various services on a number through a code. IMEI numbers can also be retrieved using USSD codes.

How Does Call Forwarding Service Work?

Call forwarding service allows incoming calls or messages on your mobile number to be redirected to another number. For instance, if a user dials *401#, and then receives a call from an unknown number, the call would be forwarded to the scammer’s phone. This method is widely exploited by scammers nowadays.

Risks Associated with Call Forwarding

This poses several risks as scammers gain access to your bank accounts, social media, and conduct online transactions using OTPs forwarded to their phones. Moreover, they can issue new SIM cards in your name using your details.

Government’s Response

In light of these risks, the Telecom Department has issued a notice, requiring users who have activated USSD-based call forwarding services to re-activate them through optional methods. This ensures that services are not activated without the user’s consent. This decision aims to combat online fraud, as the Telecom Department believes that USSD-based call forwarding services are being misused in various fraud cases.

Taking Action

As per the government’s directive, telecom companies must explore alternative methods for call forwarding services using unstructured supplementary service data (USSD). Smartphone users are advised to check their call forwarding settings and immediately disable call forwarding if the service is activated by dialing ‘*401#’.

By implementing these measures, the government aims to protect mobile users from falling victim to online fraud and ensure the security of their personal information and financial assets.

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