Abuse of Electronic Communications Act: Telcos rip  off customers
Unsolicited messages like this floods mobile phone users on daily basis

Abuse of Electronic Communications Act: Telcos rip off customers

It has emerged that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country are blatantly violating a section of the Act that bars them from sending unsolicited electronic messages to their customers.


Caller tunes are also assigned to customers without their knowledge or approval at an average monthly fee of about GHS1.

As a result, millions of their customers are losing credit on data and voice at their blind side while the MNOs make huge gains.

The Electronic Transactions Act (2008) section 50 (I) unambiguously 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”. 

Despite this, MNOs continue to flout the Act with impunity, flooding the phones of their customers with messages that they have not been notified of.

The MNOs also charge for caller tunes they automatically select for their customers without their authorisation.

Analysts have maintained that the practice is used by the MNOs to, as they bluntly put it, “rob” customers of their credit at their blind side.

They said the nature of the messages is such that even if a customer attempts to cancel a message that pops up on their screens, the system automatically charges the customer without their authority.

Customers bane

Some customers the paper engaged described the development as painful and unimaginable, wondering whether the industry regulator is not aware of the practice, not only to stop it but sanction the recalcitrant telcos and compel them to compensate them.

“The NCA must stop sleeping on the job and call these telcos to order because they are sucking our credit for services we have not asked for,” one said.

“I guess the best way to stop them is for us customers to take a class action against the telcos and the NCA (itself) for looking on without action.

Once they are heavily fined, as is the case in many jurisdictions, they will stop that practice and deal fairly with their customers,” Franklin Udeh said

Others in random interviews sought action from the industry regulator to end what they called “daylight robbery”.

Samples of messages

Some of the messages read: “REMINDER: You are currently subscribed to Story Portal Web at GHC3.11/monthly. Your subscription will be renewed on 2024-05-14 00:21:24. To deactivate, send WEB MONTH DEACT to 781 or dial *175# to manage subscriptions”.

“Conquer the PMP exam in 3 months and become a recognised Project Manager. Register Free.”

Thank you for your request for Health4You daily. You will be charged GHS0.40 daily. Please reply: 1. Yes 2. No.”

Others are for customers to subscribe to various services which advertise a charge. However, even if one clears the messages, deductions are made.


Attempts to have the MNOs, particularly, industry giant MTN Ghana, and second biggest market share holder, Telecel, proved futile, as they, at the time of going to press, were yet to respond to evidence provided to them and a questionnaire to answer.

NCA Response

Meanwhile, when asked about the development, the NCA in a written response said: “National Communications Authority is aware of reports of Unsolicited Electronic Communication (UECs) from Service Providers to consumers.”

Unequivocally, the NCA said: “The Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are not required to send these communications by the regulation in the Electronic Transactions Act (2008) section 50 (I) which 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”. 


It further indicated: “When the NCA receives a complaint that the above regulation has been flouted, an investigation is conducted and a Cease and Desist Notice is sent to the defaulting bulk–messaging company.”

Although the NCA claimed that “All companies that were notified have since ceased sending these unsolicited messages to consumers,” the reality on the ground proves otherwise.

The violations, per our checks, continue unabated, leaving customers to wonder if the NCA is up to the task or has a mechanism to monitor these fraudulent acts that happen daily.

The NCA said, however, that the authority continuously monitors the situation to ensure compliance across the board.


“Failure to comply may result in sanctions to the identified companies,” It said. However, it did not mention the nature of the sanctions and whether it is the NCA that benefits the customers.

It also said: “The Authority, from time to time, also issues Consumer Alerts for consumer information and to inform the general public on how to manage and report when they receive such messages. 

In addition, a publication on UEC was also shared in NCA’s 9th Edition of the Consumer Watch highlighting key interventions the Authority has made to curb the menace.”

The industry regulator further noted: “The NCA also regularly conducts Consumer Outreach Programmes to empower consumers and the management of UECs, and the need for consumers to report any such incidents to the authority features greatly in the outreach activity.  


MNOs have also been cautioned and they are working on developing all compassing solutions.”

It said further: “The above notwithstanding, MNOs have a dedicated short code for subscribers to check the various products or promotions they have subscribed to. 

These are MTN (*175#1); Telecel (*463#1); AirtelTigo (*100#4).

The NCA said consumers that want to be added to the Do Not Disturb (DND) list of the MNO also have the option to contact their customer care centre and request to be blacklisted from receiving such information.

“If the messages do not stop, it can be reported to the NCA to issue Cease and Desist letters to these Value Added Service Providers (VASPs).

Consumers and the public are advised to report cases of unsolicited communications in order to further advise the Authority’s ongoing engagements and regulatory actions with the MNOs.”

Meanwhile, the NCA said: “In addition to the above, the NCA has further noted, with concern, the increase in transmission of Network Promotional Messages (NPMs) sent by MNOs regarding various offers, packages and bundles on their network and recently conducted a survey on the subject. 

This was followed by a focus group discussion where a cross-section of consumers was interviewed to obtain their experiences. 

The NCA had meetings with the MNOs to share their findings on the engagement. The authority is currently in the process of developing guidelines to regulate the transmission of NPMs.

Call tunes

Regarding Caller Tunes, the NCA said consumers who are auto-subscribed to Caller Tunes are to report to their service providers to be unsubscribed from the service and request a refund. 

If these are not done, they should report the MNO to the NCA on our Toll-Free Number, 0800110622, and our hotline, 0307011419, for appropriate actions.

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