15 December 2009
24x7 Direct first call centre penalised for ringing numbers on the Do Not Call Register
Melbourne-based call centre, 24x7 Direct Pty Ltd, has paid an $8,800 infringement notice after the Australian Communications and Media Authority found it had made a number of telemarketing calls to numbers listed on the Do Not Call Register (the register).
The ACMA has also accepted a comprehensive enforceable undertaking from 24x7 Direct, which undertaking is intended to address its ongoing compliance with the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (the Act).
‘While the ACMA has investigated and taken action against companies hiring call centres to make telemarketing calls, this is the first time the ACMA has penalised a call centre directly for calling numbers on the register,’ said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA.
The ACMA took action against 24x7 Direct after investigating complaints about calls offering financial services being made to numbers on the register. The investigation found 24x7 Direct had been hired by a financial services business to make telemarketing calls, on the understanding it would not call numbers listed on the register.
‘The call centre industry should consider the ACMA’s action in this matter as a wake-up call,’ said Mr Chapman. ‘The ACMA expects call centres to be the experts in Do Not Call compliance. After all, this is their bread and butter.’
Mr Chapman also said that businesses engaging call centres should exercise eternal vigilance, including doing their homework.
‘They must make sure that their call centres have effective compliance procedures and they should also regularly monitor their work,’ he said.
In July 2009, the ACMA published its Do Not Call Register Act 2006 Compliance Guide, which is available on the ACMA’s website. Call centres and businesses engaging telemarketing companies should refer to this guide to help them better understand compliance requirements.
Mr Chapman added this investigation highlighted how important it is for consumers on the register to complain about receiving unwanted calls. ‘If the ACMA knows about these calls, it can and will act.’ he said.
If your phone number is registered and you receive an unsolicited telemarketing call, you should note down:
- the time and date of the call
- the name of the call centre
- the name of the company they were calling for, and what they were offering.
People with registered numbers can lodge a complaint at www.donotcall.gov.au, or phone 1300 792 958. Registrations last for three years and can be renewed at any time.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980.
Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (the Act) individuals can enter their Australian fixed line or mobile telephone numbers on the Register, provided those numbers are used primarily for private or domestic purposes (for example, calls to family and friends). Entering a number on the register means that individuals have opted out of receiving a wide range of unsolicited telemarketing calls. Registrations are valid for three years, and can be re-registered or removed from the register at any time. To date, almost four million phone numbers have been entered on the register. One and a half million of these phone numbers were entered on the register in the first months of the register’s operation and will be due for renewal in mid 2010.
It is unlawful, in the absence of consent, for any telemarketer in Australia or overseas to make a non-exempt telemarketing call to a number on the register. The ACMA is responsible for overseeing its operation and for investigating breaches of the Act and the Telecommunications (Do Not Call Register) (Telemarketing and Research Calls) Industry Standard 2007 (the industry standard)
Undertakings provided by 24x7 Direct
24x7 Direct has entered into a comprehensive enforceable undertaking with the ACMA, directed at ensuring its future compliance with the Act. The undertaking is published in full on the ACMA’s website.
Infringement Notices under the Act
The ACMA can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a business has failed to comply with the Act. In giving an infringement notice, ACMA is merely alleging that the business has failed to comply with the law. An infringement notice is not a finding of guilt, and payment of the penalty is not an admission of guilt by the business. If the penalty is not paid, the ACMA may commence court proceedings, and the court will determine whether the business has contravened the legislation.
Anniversary means renewal
May 2010 marks the third anniversary of the launch of the 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.
Making a complaint
To make a complaint, visit www.donotcall.gov.au or call 1300 792 958.
Compliance with the Act and the Industry Standard
The ACMA’s general approach to enforcing compliance with the Act is to seek to resolve a matter, where appropriate, without resorting to formal procedures. Where complaints are received, the ACMA generally issues an advisory letter to the relevant business, providing it with an opportunity to review its compliance processes and address the apparent issues. The ACMA has also undertaken an extensive education campaign about the Do Not Call Register legislation during the past two years.
Where an informal approach to enforcement has not been effective in addressing the apparent compliance issues of the business concerned, the ACMA undertakes a formal investigation into the matter. There are a number of enforcement options available to the ACMA, which include:
- issuing a formal warning
- accepting enforceable undertakings
- giving an infringement notice, which specifies a financial penalty
- commencing proceedings in the Federal Court or Federal Magistrates’ Court.
The Compliance Guide
The ACMA recently launched the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 Compliance Guide (the guide), to assist the telemarketing industry in achieving best practice compliance with the Act. Businesses that engage in or are considering engaging in telemarketing should review the guide, which is available on the ACMA’s www.donotcall.gov.au website.
The guide is a compilation of practical measures telemarketers can take to comply with the Act. Its development involved consultation with a broad cross-section of the telemarketing industry, including telemarketers and call centres of varying sizes. The guide has also drawn on knowledge gained from investigations conducted by the ACMA.
The Compliance Guide is not intended as a statement of things telemarketers must do to comply with the Act, nor is it a list of measures that, if applied, would necessarily ensure a person’s compliance. Its primary objective is to help telemarketers meet their regulatory obligations under the Act and therefore reduce the number of unlawful telemarketing calls made to numbers on the register.