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Telecom

How to avoid/stop unsolicited messages (SMS)

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In a blog post, UCC has explained how to stop unsolicited messages that are always sent by telcos or any other bodies that do telemarketing

Unsolicited messaging can be defined “as the practice of the indiscriminate distribution of messages without the permission of the receiver and without consideration for the message’s appropriateness”.

According to UCC, unsolicited messages can be used to perpetrate fraud, which has become a significant problem for consumers.

“One form of this phenomenon is premium unsolicited messages – the unlawful practice of sending premium content and charging consumers for third-party services such as ringtones and recurring text messages containing trivia or horoscopes without their knowledge or consent,” UCC writes in the blog post.

On a good note, UCC requires every service provider to implement a functional, prominent, precise and efficient unsubscribe or opt-out facility to enable a customer to send a notification to the service provider barring further unwanted messages to the customer from the respective service provider or specific application.

To facilitate the ease of using the opt-out service, the Commission designated a uniform code 196 to be used across all the mobile networks.

So, to stop unsolicited messages, you’ll dial *196# on any SIM card.

Telcos have different steps you follow; all you need is to read the prompts.

for instance, when using an Airtel Uganda SIM card, after dialing the above code, you’ll be prompted to select the preferred language (Luganda or English), then you’ll get another Menu showing a list of items to pick from.

You’ll pick ‘Promotional Messages’, after which you’ll get another prompt asking you to stop or start.

Following these basic instructions, you can also stop unsolicited messages on MTN, Africell, UTL and any other service provider.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

(By UCC)

 

What t0 do when you receive unsolicited SMS

Reply ‘STOP’ or use *196# to opt-out. Keep the message to make a complaint in case the messages persist, and report it to your operator.

What to do if charged for unsolicited SMS

Use the *196# code of the content supplier to stop the messages. Call the content supplier’s helpline about the charges and confirm they stopped the service.

You also have the option to text back ‘STOP’ to the number included in the message.

You should receive a message from the content supplier confirming the cancellation of the service.

Complaints about the billing of unsolicited messages should be directed, in the ­first instance, to your mobile phone service provider.

In the event, your complaint remains unresolved, contact the Uganda Communications Commission on 0800 222 777 or visit our website at http://www.ucc.co.ug and file a formal complaint.

Why unsubscribe when you didn’t consent to receive messages in the first place?

Some message senders are legitimate businesses sending unsolicited commercial messages as a result of a previous business engagement you may not currently be aware of.

Using the unsubscribe facility *196# is the most efficient way to ensure the messages stop.

You can make a complaint to the Commission if the unsolicited messages persist.

I REPLIED ‘STOP’ TO AN SMS MESSAGE AND USED THE CODE *196# AS PER THE INSTRUCTIONS, BUT I HAVE CONTINUED TO RECEIVE THE SAME MESSAGE. WHAT CAN I DO?

If you continue to receive SMS messages after opting out, keep the messages and make a complaint to your service provider. If it remains unresolved, register a complaint with the Commission.  We are more than willing to help.

Why should I make a complaint?

Complaints and reports on unsolicited SMS activity to the regulator are an integral part of unsolicited SMS investigations.

Without assistance from the public, the regulator would be limited in its capacity to ­fight them. The Commission’s complaints handling guidelines indicate how complaints are handled.

HOW CAN I STOP UNSOLICITED MESSAGES (SMS) FROM TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES?

Use the *196# code to stop the messages.

You may also call the content supplier’s helpline to confirm they stopped the messages.

You also have the option to write to your telecommunications service provider clearly stating you do not wish to receive any unsolicited SMS messages.

As a last resort, you can request to have your number on the Do Not Disturb (DND) list.

However, having your number on the DND will deprive you of important messages such as bank alerts, electricity service provider’s alerts, etc.

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