Stop Using *401# Code For Activating Call Forwarding From April 15, Dot Tells Telecom Companies


(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) In a significant decision that will impact smartphone users across India, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued directives mandating the stoppage of USSD code usage, such as *401#, for activating call forwarding features. Effective April 15, 2024, telecom companies are required to discontinue the use of USSD codes, a move aimed at enhancing security and curbing potential misuse in online scams and mobile-related crimes.

USSD codes, commonly employed by mobile users to access various services like balance checks or IMEI number retrieval, have been identified by the DoT as susceptible to online scams. The ban order, issued on March 28, underscores concerns regarding the misuse of USSD-based call forwarding services, notably *401#, for unauthorized activities.

"In this regard, it has been decided by the competent authority that all licensees shall discontinue the existing USSD-based call forwarding services with effect from April 15, 2024, till further notice," the DoT order stipulated.

How to avail call forwarding after April 15?

Existing subscribers who have activated USSD-based call forwarding services are instructed to reinitiate call forwarding through alternative methods to ensure their consent and prevent unauthorized activation. Telecom companies are tasked with facilitating alternative avenues for managing call forwarding in compliance with the directive.

Why did DoT come out with this directive?

This regulatory shift seeks to bolster security measures and thwart unauthorized call forwarding, which poses risks of compromising sensitive information like one-time passwords (OTPs) used in online transactions. As the deadline approaches, smartphone users relying on USSD codes for call forwarding are urged to prepare for the transition to alternative methods provided by telecom operators.

How does the Call Forwarding Scam Operate?

The call forwarding scam involves fraudsters posing as customer service representatives from mobile or internet service providers. They target smartphone users under the guise of addressing purported issues with their mobile internet, account security, or SIM cards. To establish credibility, they suggest a quick solution: dialling a specific number, such as 401, purportedly to rectify the problem. However, this action activates call forwarding to the scammer's number, granting them access to the victim's calls, potentially intercepting voice OTPs without the victim's knowledge, as their phone does not ring.

The ultimate goal of the scammers is to pilfer money and sensitive information, including bank details and messaging app credentials. To safeguard against such scams, individuals are advised to refrain from dialling unfamiliar codes, secure their phones, and abstain from divulging sensitive information to unknown callers. Vigilance is paramount in thwarting these deceptive schemes.

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