Shopkeepers can no longer ask for customer mobile numbers before generating bill: Ministry of Consumer Affairs

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An advisory was issued in response to complaints from consumers who felt that they were being forced to provide their personal information in order to receive services.

The Consumer Affairs Ministry has issued an advisory directing retailers not to insist on the personal contact details of consumers for delivering certain services.

The new advisory issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India, states that requiring a consumer's mobile number as a condition for the sale of a product when the consumer declines to provide it is a violation of consumer rights and an unjust business practise.

The advisory mentions Section 72 - A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 considering the act of obtaining a mobile number without consent as a punishable offence.

According to the Advisory report, merchants frequently require the consumer's personal contact information, before issuing a bill. However, this is considered discriminatory and in violation of the Consumer Protection Act. This information should not be collected by retailers, as it unfairly restricts consumers' options.

“Sellers say they cannot generate the bill until personal contact details are provided. This is an unfair and restrictive trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act and there is no rationality behind collecting the information,” the report says.

There is also a concern for privacy. In the interest of consumers, an advisory has been issued to the retail industry and industry chambers CII and FICCI to resolve this issue.

In India, consumers are not required to provide their mobile numbers to retailers in order to receive a bill. However, consumers frequently feel pressured by retailers who require their phone numbers in order to complete transactions. In numerous situations, they lack the option to refuse.

This decision demonstrates the government's effort to address the expanding threats posed by online scams and highlights its emphasis on consumer rights and protection. With the elimination of the requirement for mobile numbers in billing processes, consumers can now conduct transactions with greater peace of mind.