Shopkeepers can no longer ask for mobile numbers before generating bill
In a move aimed at safeguarding customer privacy and reducing the risk of online scams, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has issued an advisory to retailers. The advisory emphasizes that shopkeepers should not compel customers to provide their personal contact details, particularly mobile numbers, when generating bills. While it is not mandatory for customers in India to share their mobile numbers with retailers for billing purposes, many customers have expressed annoyance at being repeatedly asked for this information.
The government’s advisory serves as a response to these concerns, acknowledging the rising incidence of online scams conducted through mobile phone and WhatsApp messages. Disclosing personal mobile numbers can potentially expose individuals to scammers who exploit such information. By taking this step, the government aims to protect consumer privacy and enhance security for customers.
Consumer Affairs Secretary, Rohit Kumar Singh, emphasized that such practices are deemed unfair and restrictive under the Consumer Protection Act. Singh also highlighted the lack of a valid reason for retailers to collect personal contact information solely for the purpose of generating bills. The advisory aims to protect consumer privacy, considering the rising concerns around data security.
The advisory has been shared with the retail industry, as well as industry chambers like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and FICCI, urging them to take necessary actions to resolve this issue in the best interests of consumers.
It is important to note that customers in India are not legally obligated to provide their mobile numbers to retailers for bill generation. The insistence on collecting a single contact number during transactions can create an uncomfortable situation for customers, particularly when there is no opt-out option available.
The advisory serves as a significant step towards safeguarding consumer rights and promoting transparency in retail practices.
This decision reflects the government’s commitment to address the growing challenges associated with online scams and underscores its focus on consumer rights and protection. With the elimination of the requirement for mobile numbers during billing processes, customers can now enjoy greater peace of mind while conducting their transactions. (LiveMint)