13 October 2009
The ACMA urges Australians to report spam and unwanted telemarketing phone calls
A Newspoll survey commissioned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority indicates nearly two in five Australians with mobile phones or an email account (39 per cent) were unaware of who to contact to complain about spam email and SMS, while almost half the population (47 per cent) were not sure where to direct complaints about unwanted telemarketing calls.
‘The Survey into Community Attitudes to Unsolicited Communications, shows that while there is a strong level of awareness and understanding about spam and unwanted telemarketing calls, taking action by lodging a complaint isn’t as well understood,’ said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA.
‘It’s actually very simple to lodge a complaint,’ Mr Chapman added. ‘For unsolicited telemarketing calls, contact the Do Not Call Register on 1300 792 958 or log on to www.donotcall.gov.au and follow the links to Enquiries and Complaints.
‘For spam messages, contact the ACMA’s Anti-Spam Team on 1300 855 180 or log on to www.spam.acma.gov.au and follow the links to Lodge a Complaint.
‘If we don’t receive complaints, then the ACMA cannot protect consumers’ rights. Over the past two years, as a direct result of complaints the ACMA has uncovered significant breaches of the Spam Act 2003 and the Do Not Call Register Act 2006. Subsequent investigations have resulted in financial penalties, warnings, enforceable undertakings and even Federal Court action.’
Mr Chapman also noted that May 2010 marks the third anniversary of the launch of the Do Not Call Register. ‘From this time, entries on the register will begin to expire. This is because numbers can only be on the register for three years and are then automatically removed if not renewed. Registrations can be renewed at any time simply by visiting www.donotcall.gov.au or by calling 1300 792 958.’
To date, more than 3.7 million Australians have registered their phone numbers and the ACMA has recorded a 60 per cent reduction in complaints received about the telemarketing industry.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980.
The ACMA commissioned Newspoll to conduct research to explore community attitudes to unsolicited telemarketing calls and electronic communications and the awareness and effectiveness of the regulatory regimes governing these communications. The research objectives for this study were to measure:
- the level of awareness and understanding of the Do Not Call Register;
- registrations on the register and perceptions of the registration process;
- effectiveness of the register in reducing the amount of telemarketing calls received to the consumer’s telephone number;
- awareness of the DNCR Act, for example, prohibited calling times, exempt organisations, requirement to re-register after three years etc;
- the level of awareness and understanding of spam and the Spam Act;
- personal experiences with spam; and
- awareness of the complaints process for the register and for unsolicited electronic messages.
Fieldwork was conducted in June 2009 and 1,625 interviews were completed among people aged over 18 years throughout Australia. According to those surveyed, 85 per cent have a mobile phone and 75 per cent have a personal email address.
Key Survey Findings
Do Not Call Register
The Do Not Call Register appears to have been very effective, particularly for those who have registered their home phone number.
Awareness of the register is high, as is the level of interest in registering amongst those not currently registered. Three in four Australians have heard of the Do Not Call Register, while 32 per cent have signed up. Of those, 79 per cent have reported receiving fewer telemarketing calls at home.
Graph 1: Awareness of the Do Not Call Register
Around one in three of those surveyed has a number on the register.
Reasons for not registering range from people having not got around to it, not knowing how to register or knowing enough about the register or simply not being bothered by telemarketing calls.
The vast majority who registered a number (95 per cent) claim the process was an easy one, with 71 per cent saying it was ‘very easy’. Four out of five respondents who had their home phone registered reported receiving fewer telemarketing calls since registering.
"Spam" is the common term for electronic junk mail delivered to email addresses or mobile phones.
However, according to the ACMA-commissioned Survey into Community Attitudes to Unsolicited Communications, 85 per cent of respondents deleted spam emails without opening them.
Nearly four in five adults (78 per cent) have heard of the term ‘spam’. The respondents’ awareness and understanding of spam is generally high, as is the use of spam filters.
On average, respondents received 23 spam emails per week, which are generally left unread and deleted.
Graph 2: Number of spam emails received in personal inbox each week
Most respondents use filters to block spam, or deleted, or ignored it.
Graph 3: What people typically do with email spam
SMS and MMS spam is less prevalent with personal mobile users recording an average of two spam messages per month.
However, the public’s awareness of Australia’s anti-spam laws is low.