30 May 2008
Australians list 2.3 million telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Register
Australians have listed more than 2.3 million telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Register since its launch one year ago.
The register, which is overseen by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, was established in May 2007 under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006. It makes it illegal for most kinds of telemarketing calls to be made to domestic and private fixed line and mobile telephone numbers listed on the register in the absence of consent.
ACMA’s Chairman Chris Chapman said that a recent ACMA-commissioned survey showed the register is being well received by consumers and delivering results.
‘Nearly 90 per cent of those surveyed who had listed their numbers on the register reported a drop in the number of telemarketing calls they received,’ Mr Chapman said.
The survey also revealed overwhelming community support for the register with more than 90 per cent of respondents agreeing that it was a useful initiative.
Mr Chapman added that industry had responded well to the register and the new accompanying national industry standard that directs when and how telemarketers and researchers can contact individuals.
‘ACMA is committed to holding businesses accountable for the actions of call centres they engage to make calls on their behalf, he said. ‘Where a business or contracted call centre has illegally called numbers on the register, ACMA will take appropriate enforcement action.’
Mr Chapman said ACMA had commenced 18 formal investigations in the last 12 months. Two have been finalised, both finding the businesses involved had not complied with the Do Not Call Register Act. ACMA found that offshore call centres engaged by the businesses had made telemarketing calls to consumers on the register.’
‘This low number of investigations in one year shows the industry has done a great job in amending their business practices and doing it responsibly.’
Under the Do Not Call Register Act, telemarketers are able to submit their calling lists to the register operator for checking against the register. This process of ‘washing’ lists assists telemarketers to comply with the Act. In the last year, the industry has washed more than 770 million telephone numbers against the register.
Registering a telephone number on the Do Not Call Register is easy, quick and free. Individuals can register their personal home or mobile telephone number by completing a short form online at www.donotcall.gov.au, calling 1300 792 958 or filling out a postal form.
Anyone who has registered their telephone numbers but continues to receive telemarketing calls more than a month after listing on the Do Not Call Register can lodge a complaint online at www.donotcall.gov.au or with the register operator by calling 1300 792 958.
Media contact: Blake Murdoch, ACMA Media, on (02) 9334 7817.
Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, ACMA was responsible for establishing the Do Not Call Register and is overseeing its operation. ACMA also developed and made the industry standard for telemarketing and research calls.
Under the Do Not Call Register legislation individuals can list their Australian fixed line or mobile telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Register, provided those numbers are used mainly for private or domestic purposes, for example, calls to family and friends. Registration allows individuals to opt out of receiving a wide range of unsolicited telemarketing calls. Registrations are valid for three years, and can be withdrawn at any time.
From 31 May 2007, it became illegal, in the absence of consent, for any non-exempt telemarketer in Australia and overseas to contact a number listed on the register.
The legislation allows a number of limited exemptions to enable certain public interest organisations to make telemarketing calls. Government bodies, educational or religious organisations, registered political parties, independent members of parliament, electoral candidates and charities are all entitled to these exemptions.
Exemptions also apply where the account holder has consented to a call or where consent can be reasonably inferred.
Market and social researchers are permitted to call when conducting opinion polling and standard questionnaire-based research. However, these calls (and all other exempt telemarketing calls) are subject to the national standard for telemarketing and research calls.
The national standard directs when and how telemarketers and researchers can contact individuals. Specifically, it governs:
- the times at which telemarketing and research calls cannot be made;
- information that must be provided by the caller including their name and business;
- the termination of telemarketing and research calls; and
- the use of calling line identification.
Melbourne-based Service Stream Limited operates the Do Not Call Register. Under its contract, Service Stream is responsible for:
- operating and administering the register
- promoting and raising awareness of the register, and
- handling complaints and enquiries about the register’s operation.
ACMA is responsible for overseeing the register’s operation and investigating breaches of the Do Not Call Register legislation.
ACMA’s general approach to compliance is to seek to resolve a matter, where appropriate, without resorting to formal procedures. Where complaints are received ACMA issues an advisory letter to the relevant business providing it with an opportunity to review its compliance processes and address the apparent issues.
At the end of April 2008, 20,838 complaints had been received. There are signs that industry compliance is improving with the average number of complaints received per month falling from 3,538 in the first three months of operation to around 1,900 in the three months to April 2008.
Furthermore, about 60 per cent of the businesses who have received an informal notification from ACMA ceased to be the subject of consumer complaints within four to six weeks, suggesting that ACMA’s current approach to compliance is proving effective.
Complaints are largely driven by systemic non-compliance within a relatively small section of the industry, with 5 per cent of the businesses ACMA has received complaints about responsible for about 70 per cent of the total complaints received. ACMA’s formal investigations are focusing on these businesses.
Where an informal approach to a business is not appropriate or not effective in addressing the apparent compliance issues, ACMA undertakes a formal investigation into the matter.