Some spam messages are sent by professional spammers, while others are sent by legitimate businesses that have failed to comply with Australia’s spam laws. There are a number of ways to deal with spam from intentional and unintentional spammers.
If you receive an email that seems suspicious, for example, you don’t recognise the sender or the subject line looks dubious:
- don’t reply or click on any links, including ‘unsubscribe’ - doing this may result in receiving even more spam or lead to malicious software being installed on your computer.
- don’t buy products or services advertised in the message.
- delete the message without opening it.
If you receive a message from a legitimate business, for example a financial institution or shop, but do not want to receive messages from that organisation, you can:
- unsubscribe - legitimate businesses do not operate in the same way as professional spammers, so unsubscribing to their emails can be a quick, low-risk way to prevent future spam. Under Australia’s spam laws, businesses must honour your unsubscribe request within five working days.
- check the email addresses the business has sent the message to - sometimes emails from your old addresses are automatically forwarded to your new address. You’ll need to know the old address if you want the business to remove it from their list.
You can also lodge a complaint or report spam to the ACMA in a number of ways, which are detailed in the Reporting spam section.
While the Spam Act covers the sending of spam messages, it does not cover their content, other than to determine whether or not a message is commercial. If you would like to report spam that contains illegal content such as pornography or online gambling links, contact the ACMA’s Content Assessment Team by emailing email@example.com or by complete an online complaint form.
If you have received a series of SMS messages from a number starting with 19xxx, chances are that you have received, (and been charged for) a 'mobile premium service'. In general terms, the Spam Act defines a ‘commercial electronic message’ as any electronic message that offers, advertises or promotes the supply of goods, services, land or business or investment opportunities.
Unless you have retained the original message or messages that advertised the premium SMS service you are receiving, the ACMA is unlikely to be able to take any action under the Spam Act against the sender of these messages. This is because most premium SMS messages received after the initial message(s) advertising or promoting the service are the service or ‘end product’ itself.
However, if you believe that you have not subscribed to the premium SMS service this does not mean that you are unable to take action against the relevant service provider. Complaints about mobile premium services are dealt with under the Mobile Premium Services Code.
In the first instance, you should contact your mobile service carrier to try and resolve the issue. Should this prove unsuccessful, you can escalate your complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).
The TIO is the ‘Escalated Complaints Handling Body’ nominated under the MPS Code. The TIO is also able to investigate complaints relating to the billing of mobile premium services. You can refer a complaint to the TIO by calling 1800 062 058 or visiting the TIO website at www.tio.com.au.
You should also note that under the MPS Code, premium service providers are required to unsubscribe you if you reply to a message with the word STOP, and that such unsubscribe requests cannot be charged at a premium rate. However, if you have received any message or messages that appear to promote or advertise a premium SMS service, please retain the message details and lodge a complaint with the ACMA.