The Practical Way to Deal with SMS Spam in India

On: June 12, 2018

We all have been at the receiving end of unending spam messages. No matter if we have  DND (Do-Not-Disturb) activated or not, the promotional messages somehow manage to creep into our notifications. Unlike emails, there is no clear way to unsubscribe from these text messages. However, with just little effort, you can register a complaint with TRAI regarding these spam messages.

How to Register a Complaint?

At first, ensure that you have already registered for the DND service. If not, just message ‘START 0’ to 1909. You can also call this number and follow the instructions given by the auto-responder. It takes around 7 days to process the request. And to make a new request, you will have to wait for 3 months.

Once you are registered for DND and the service is active, technically telemarketers should not be able to reach you. But this is far from the reality and they somehow creep into our SMS inbox and calls. To tackle this, TRAI has introduced a simple way to register a complaint for unsolicited messages.

There are two ways to register a complaint:

1. By calling 1909

You can call 1909 and follow the instructions you hear. Select the option for registering a complaint. You will be connected with a customer service executive who will guide you through the process. To help them better, offer the below details:

  • Name of the telemarketer
  • Telephone number or header of the message (eg. BZ-INFOSM)
  • Date and time of the message
  • A summary of what the message is about

Once you share this, the executive will then register an official complaint and provide you a unique complaint number. Save this number with you for future reference. Within 7 days, you will be informed about the action taken on that particular telemarketer.

2. By messaging 1909

If you’re someone who doesn’t want to put in the time to get through the IVR and want to take the SMS route, draft a new message to 1909 in the specified format below:

“{The Spam Message Text}, {Number or Header of the telemarketer}, {dd/mm/yy}”

For eg. Inway – 6 Page Website FREE with CMS + Social Sharing + WhatsApp Call on Unlimited PRO Signup ltd period offer Call: 98437XXXXX/Visit:, MD-ALERTS, 07/06/18

Send this to 1909.

After doing this, you will receive a new message acknowledging the complaint. The message will also contain a complaint number that you can use for future reference. Within 7 days of registering the complaint, you will be informed about the action taken on the telemarketer.

Keep in mind that the complaint has to be registered within 3 days of receiving the message. Also, it won’t work if you haven’t registered for DND.

As a best practice, after sending one complaint to 1909, wait for a Reference No. to arrive via SMS before sending another complaint.

You can also check your DND registration status here.

Will it Help?

After getting the complaint under DND, it is necessary for the telecom operator to investigate the matter and demand proof from the spammer that this is not a promotional message. Often smart offenders get a case once in a while which they justify with false proof, but it sure puts some burden on them. At the very least, you can expect that they will take you off their database. And we can hope that this results into some fines or deactivation of some spammy SMS short codes.  

We have tried it a bunch of times and even though no action is being taken, the telemarketer unsubscribes us from their list. It seems everyone is going through the same drill.

So the next time you are at the receiving end of a promotional message you don’t want, you know what to do. This will at least help you get unsubscribed from their databases, which is what most people want.

Aditya Mohanty

Previously co-founded a startup called WordKrowd, an online literature platform, which explains his love for writing and reading. Thinks about startups and technologies all day long, thus got himself to Pricebaba for a stint in writing. Stories, both fictional and real excite him. Other close recipients of love from him include good movies and good food.