Big update: From April 15, the government has changed the way you forward calls on mobiles in India to tackle fraud

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For smartphone users in India, get ready for a change in how you call forwarding functions on your Android or iPhone devices. The Department of Telecom (DoT) is taking steps to tackle fraud and online crime through mobile phones. As part of this initiative, telecom companies have been advised to stop using USSD codes (such as *401#) to activate call-forwarding features. This order will come into effect from April 15, 2024 till further notice.

Key Points of DoT Ban Order

According to the March 28 order, the DoT has observed that USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) based call forwarding, especially the *401# service for unconditional call forwarding, is being misused for unwanted activities.

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The order states, “In this regard, it has been decided by the competent authority that all licensees shall discontinue the existing USSD based call forwarding services from April 15, 2024 till further notice. All existing subscribers who have activated the USSD based call forwarding service may request re-activation of the call forwarding services through alternative methods, such services will not be activated without their notice.

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What is USSD-based call forwarding and how is it accessed?

USSD codes are short codes that mobile users input on their devices to access various services, such as checking their balance or getting their phone's IMEI number. Despite their flexibility, the DoT has identified vulnerabilities in these codes that could be exploited for fraudulent activities and mobile phone-related crimes.

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Implications for phone users

For users who are used to using USSD codes for call forwarding, a change is imminent. After April 15, they will have to reactivate these services using alternative methods. Telecom companies are responsible for providing these alternative ways to perform call forwarding. The objective behind this change is to improve security measures and prevent unauthorized call forwarding, which can lead to theft of sensitive information such as one-time passwords (OTPs) used in online transactions.

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