Telecom Consumer Education Protection Fund

Context :

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said telecom service providers will need to deposit all unclaimed money of consumers, including excess charges and security deposit, in the Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund (TCEPF).

About TCEPF

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • However, Trai had noticed that certain inconsistency on the grounds on which money is being deposited by operators.

About the Amendment

  • The TCEPF Regulations, 2007, which have now been amended, provide the basic framework for depositing unclaimed money of consumers by service providers, maintenance of the TCEPF and other related aspects.
  • With this amendment service provider will deposit any unclaimed consumer money of any form such as excess charges, security deposit, plan charges of failed activations, or any amount belonging to a consumer, which service providers are unable to refund to consumers, to the fund after providing time of twelve months or period of limitation specified under law whichever is later