DoT mandates suspension of USSD-based call forwarding effective April 15

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has instructed telecom operators to halt USSD-based call forwarding starting April 15, urging them to offer the service through other means.

USSD, a feature enabling users to activate services by dialing specific codes, such as checking IMEI numbers or prepaid balances, will no longer support call forwarding after this date.

Temporary Suspension of USSD based Call Forwarding

The move comes as a preventive measure against fraudulent activities and online crimes carried out via mobile phones. In a notification issued on March 28, the DoT highlighted the misuse of USSD-based call forwarding, specifically the *401# service for unconditional call forwarding.

To address this concern, all licensees are mandated to discontinue USSD-based call forwarding services by April 15, 2024, until further notice. Subscribers currently using this service must switch to alternative methods to activate call forwarding after the specified date.

Rising Cybercrime Concerns

Instances of cybercrimes exploiting USSD-based call forwarding have escalated, prompting the government’s intervention.

Criminals deceive individuals by posing as customer service representatives or technical support personnel from telecom providers.

They persuade users to dial *401# followed by a mobile number to purportedly resolve network-related issues, unwittingly activating call forwarding to the fraudster’s number.

Government’s Cautionary Measures

In January, the Department of Telecommunications cautioned users against responding to malicious calls instructing them to dial *401# followed by an unknown number.

Furthermore, on March 29, the Ministry of Communications issued advisories regarding impersonation scams involving calls purportedly from the DoT and WhatsApp calls from foreign numbers impersonating government officials.

To combat cybercrime effectively, citizens are urged to report fraudulent communications via the ‘Chakshu-Report Suspected Fraud Communications’ facility on the Sanchar Saathi portal.

Additionally, victims of cybercrime or financial fraud are encouraged to seek assistance through the cybercrime helpline number 1930 or the cybercrime website.

In conclusion, the government’s directive to discontinue USSD-based call forwarding underscores its commitment to safeguarding citizens against evolving cyber threats.