Telcos will need to deposit unclaimed consumer money — like excess charges and security deposit, which could not be refunded — towards ‘telecom consumers education and protection fund’ after a stipulated period, Trai clarified on Thursday.
“The authority observed that there is a need to bring clarity among service providers in depositing money which they are unable to refund to the consumers,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said.
The regulator said it was therefore felt that an amendment in the related regulations should be undertaken to remove any kind of ambiguity and facilitate deposit of any unclaimed money of the consumer. The Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund Regulations of 2007 offers a basic framework for depositing unclaimed money of consumers by service providers, maintenance of the fund and other aspects.
The income from the fund is utilised for programmes and activities relating to consumer education and protection.
As things stand today, any excess charges revealed in the billing audit should be refunded to consumers. However, if a service provider is not able to refund the amount despite its attempt within the time period permitted by the regulations, it has to deposit the unclaimed/unrefunded amount to the fund.
Accordingly, service providers have been depositing such unclaimed amounts to the fund.
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