Spam SMS on the rise in Malaysia, CFM steps in
By Digital News Asia November 16, 2015
- To increase monitoring efforts to ensure consumers are not short-changed
- Working with MCMC and others to educate consumers on their rights
THERE has been a “notable increase” in the number of complaints over unsolicited or spam SMSes in Malaysia year-on-year, leading the Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM) to saying that it will stepping up efforts in this area.
“As of September 2015, a total of 630 complaints were lodged with CFM, compared with 511 complaints in 2014 and 513 complaints in 2013,” said its chairman Ishak Ma’amunor Rashid.
“CFM will increase its efforts and ensure that consumers are not short-changed, by continuously monitoring the service delivery of service providers and addressing any breaches of the General Consumer Code of Practice (GCC),” he added.
The GCC is a code of practice for all communications and multimedia service providers in Malaysia, with the objective of providing benchmarks and best practices for services, CFM said in a statement.
In 2010, the Mandatory Standards for the Provision of Mobile Content Services (MCS) was set up, laying down the standards on marketing messages or advertisements via SMS, CFM said.
The standards cover messaging services that provide content, whether just information, a service or a broadcast, to mobile or fixed devices. These services sometimes also charge above and over the standard network charges of the service provider, CFM noted.
Under the conditions of these standards, MCS providers can only send marketing SMSes within 30 days of the last date of acquisition of the consumer.
Content providers are only allowed to charge the consumer upon acquisition and subscription, and the content provider cannot send messages to promote other products if they are not related to the content already subscribed to by the consumer.
Content providers must also make sure that the consumer is not charged for the SMS that they receive. If the SMS is about acquisition or subscription, it must contain relevant prices in the SMS itself.
These mandatory standards also require MCS providers to state their company name in the message. They cannot promote the MCS in an inappropriate way, like using peer-to-peer SMS or an international gateway when sending marketing SMSes.
What consumers can do
CFM said it is working with the Malaysian Mobile Content Providers Association (MMCP) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to educate consumers on the steps they can take to protect themselves from unsolicited SMSes.
It is also engaging with service and content providers to ensure that they comply with existing regulations and standards.
According to Ishak, there are a few things that consumers can do in the case of unsolicited SMSes.
Firstly, if consumers think that they have received an unwanted SMS, what they can do is type OUT and send it to the same short code number.
At the same time, complainants may also request for a refund of fees paid for these unsubscribed messages by lodging a report directly with their service provider.
Alternatively, consumers may also lodge their complaints with CFM, either through the CFM complaints portal at www.complaint.cfm.org.my, or other platforms such as via email to [email protected].
“To help consumers on the issue, we have come out with a standard complaint format with all the required information that needs to be filled by the complainant, which can be sent to the service providers should the complainants wish to seek redress or, in certain cases, a refund,” said Ishak.
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