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”Unsolicited calls & messages, How do we fight them off our phones? [Opinion]

BY: King Nobert Akpablie | Opinion |

Do you also get worried over commercial messages including Short Message Services (SMS) and pre-recorded voice calls from your mobile phone that you never subscribed to?

I have had to fume helplessly at my phone when such calls and messages come. And frustratingly some of these messages come with undue deductions from your airtime. They are often without an option to opt out.

As the world leaps into complete digitization with organizations especially marketing and advertising firms taking advantage of the opportunities it provides, mobile phone users are increasingly exposed to what is termed telemarketing activities.

Telemarketing is the marketing of goods or services to potential customers over the telephone and the Internet. Although this may provide consumers the platform to make a well informed choice from varieties of products and services, it often turns to be frustrating especially when such messages are sent without the consent of the phone user.

Many phone users in Ghana had to bear the brunt of what is termed Unsolicited Electronic Messages (UECs) from their service providers and marketing firms. In some cases, unjustifiable deductions are made from their airtime when such messages are sent.

“Get up to GHC 200,000 loan in 24 hours! call 02…. now!” except perhaps Kwame Despite, who doesn’t want such money? lol. Very common are such loan offers from Loan Companies.

Although some of these messages may be helpful to some consumers sometimes, it becomes uncomfortable when one is being bombarded regularly and many important messages sometimes remain unnoticed.

The measures to prevent the promotional messages from coming in had been in place for several years. However, not many users are aware. Telecommunication Networks have also not educated their subscribers enough on handling this menace.

As a subscriber to any mobile or internet service, you do have your rights and responsibilities. These include the right to be informed about products and services in complete, accurate, simple and clear language with options to subscribe or opt out.
Telemarketing without the consent of the phone user is illegal particularly when no options are provided for deactivation.
While your rights as a consumer are protected by the law, you are also expected to responsibly prevent these messages from pestering you.

The National Communications Authority, Ghana’s Telecommunications Regulator recently revoked all subscriptions services and later directed Mobile Network Operators to resume such services with specific adherence to the laid down guidelines that protect phone users.

As a phone user read carefully terms and conditions on contracts, promos and adverts and understanding them before opting in. Avoid giving your real number when registering with unimportant or untrusted companies and websites.

Stopping the barrage of these messages is just a dial away. The NCA has announced some short codes for managing such messages.
For MTN subscribers, dial *175# and option 1, AirtelTigo subscribers can dial *100# with option 4 and *463# with option 1 for Vodafone subscribers.

Section 50 of the Electronic Transactions Act, 2008, Act 772 states that “except in the case of a notice sent by an electronic communications provider to a customer in relation to the service, a person shall not send unsolicited electronic communications to a consumer without obtaining the prior consent of the consumer”.

So next time you receive an Unsolicited Message on your phone without your consent or an option to deactivate, know that someone is breaking Ghana’s law!

The writer is a Media and Communications Engineering Practitioner. All views expressed in this Article are his personal views and do not represent those of any organization(s).

E-mail: kingnobert2@gmail.com.

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