Do Not Call: a guide for your business | ACMA

Do Not Call: a guide for your business

Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) is responsible for establishing and overseeing the Do Not Call Register, creating national industry standards setting minimum levels of conduct for telemarketing calls, research calls and fax marketing and investigating breaches of the Do Not Call Register legislation.

Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, it is prohibited to make an unsolicited telemarketing call or send an unsolicited marketing fax to a number on the Register.

This page outlines steps for businesses to take to comply with the Do Not Call Register legislation and avoid possible contraventions and penalties.

This page contains information about:

  • the Do Not Call Register legislation
  • the industry website
  • how businesses can check their contact lists against the numbers listed on the Register
  • the annual subscription fees to access the Register
  • the national industry standard for telemarketing and research calls
  • the national industry standard for marketing faxes
  • contraventions, complaints procedures and penalties
  • where to go for more information.

Do Not Call Register: Overview

The Do Not Call Register was initially developed in response to community concern about the growth in unsolicited telemarketing calls. By entering their numbers on the register, consumers are opting-out of receiving either certain telemarketing calls or marketing faxes. To avoid penalties for contacting registered numbers, telemarketers and fax marketers can check, or 'wash', their contact lists against the numbers listed on the Do Not Call Register.

Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 a telemarketing call or a marketing fax is broadly defined as a voice call or fax made to a number to offer, supply, provide, advertise:

  • goods or services
  • land or an interest in land
  • a business opportunity or investment opportunity or to solicit donations.

A telemarketing call has two key elements:

  • It must be a voice call
  • It must have a particular commercial-type purpose (although some commercial calls are excluded from the definition of telemarketing call).

Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 a fax can be:

  • A physical document; or
  • A fax created by computer software.

Further information about telemarketing calls and marketing faxes is available on the Do Not Call Register website at www.donotcall.gov.au.

Certain public interest organisations are still allowed to contact numbers that are listed on the register. Exemptions apply to:

  • registered charities
  • educational institutions
  • government bodies
  • registered political parties
  • political candidates
  • independent members of parliament.

Calls or faxes conducted for the purpose of research which have no commercial-type purpose can be made or sent to numbers on the Register. However, the industry standards apply to all participants in the fax marketing, telemarketing and research industries including some individuals and organisations that are not covered by the general prohibition contained in the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (DNCR Act).

This means that even if a particular business, such as a registered charitable organisation, is exempt from the requirements of the DNCR Act and therefore able to fax or phone numbers listed on the Register, they must still meet the requirements contained in the industry standards.

Calls and faxes to conduct opinion polling and standard questionnaire-based research are subject to the industry standards for fax marketing and telemarketing and research calls. More information about the industry standards is available below or on the Do Not Call Register industry website at www.donotcall.gov.au.

Telemarketing calls and marketing faxes may still be made or sent to individuals who have consented to receiving them. Further information about consent can be found in DNCR consent provisions.

There is a range of penalties for contraventions of the Act. These include infringement notices, injunctions and court proceedings.

The Federal Court can impose penalties of up to $1.8 million for each day on which contraventions occurred. The ACMA can issue infringement notices of up to $180,000 for each day on which contraventions occurred.

Contraventions of the industry standards may lead to formal warnings, injunctions, or financial penalties. Penalties may be up to $250,000 for each contravention.

How the Register operates

Anyone planning to make telemarketing calls or send marketing faxes should submit their contact lists to the Do Not Call Register Operator, for checking against the Register ('washing'). Once the list is washed, it is returned, with numbers identified as listed or not listed on the Register or invalid.

Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, a person who submitted a list for washing can rely on the information received from the washed list for 30 days.

The Register Operator can check lists ranging in size from one number to millions. Depending on the load on the washing service at the time, the turnaround is generally less than a minute.

To have their lists checked, users can either:

  • use the Quick Check option for 10 numbers or less, on the Do Not Call Register industry website (Telemarketer Access Portal)
  • upload lists via the industry website
  • use the Automated Washing Service (AWS), which uses secure File Transfer Protocol
  • send their lists to the register operator on CD-ROM by certified mail.

All of these options are secure.

What to do before calling or faxing

Before contact lists can be submitted for washing against the Do Not Call Register, the user must follow these steps:

  • set up an account with the Register Operator
  • agree to the terms of use
  • select a subscription type
  • agree to the subscription terms and conditions
  • pay the applicable annual subscription fee.

Account types

Two account types are available.

Administration accounts

Administration accounts allow washing and provide payment information. As a minimum, all users must open an administration account before using the washing service. This account is expected to meet the needs of most users.

The Register Operator will provide important information to administration account-holders by email, so it is important to ensure that contact information, including email addresses, are kept up to date.

Washing-only accounts

These accounts are expected to suit large organisations where a number of departments make telemarketing calls or send marketing faxes. This account type enables a number of different users to wash their lists, but still be linked to the one administration account and subscription for the organisation.

Creating an account
An account can be created online by accessing the Do Not Call Register industry website at www.donotcall.gov.au, or by telephone on 1300 785 749 for businesses wanting to submit lists on CD-ROMs for washing.

At the time of creating an account, certain information will be required by the register operator. This will include such things as: your Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian Company Number (ACN), company name, company address details and company contact numbers.

If you are located outside of Australia, additional information may be required in order to verify your identity when creating an account.

Access fees

To access the washing service, users are generally required to purchase an annual subscription. Subscriptions are chosen according to the user's estimated annual washing needs, with additional subscriptions able to be purchased at any time.

There are eight annual subscription types to choose from. These range from subscription type A, which is free, through to subscription type H at $90,000.

The table below outlines the different subscription types and the access fees that are payable from 1 January 2011.

Subscription type

Maximum number of Australian numbers able to be submitted for checking during a subscription period

Annual subscription fee ($)

A

500

B

20 000

79

C

100 000

370

D

1 000 000

3,200

E

10 000 000

27,000

F

20 000 000

45,000

G

50 000 000

67,500

H

100 000 000

90,000

Please Note: The access fees are not subject to GST.

For the current access fees, please refer to the Do Not Call Register industry website.

There are certain limitations that apply to subscription Type A. In general, only one subscription Type A can be taken out in any 12-month period. If a user takes out any other subscription type, the Type A subscription will be cancelled automatically. Any unused washes from the cancelled subscription Type A cannot be rolled over onto any new subscription purchased.

During the term of a subscription, the register operator will keep track of the total quantity of numbers that a user has submitted for washing. This total will include numbers that are identified as invalid, as well as any numbers submitted for checking more than once.

Other than Type A subscriptions, if the user purchases another subscription before its current 12-month subscription expires, any unused washes from the current subscription will be automatically rolled over onto the new subscription.

Subscriptions will not be renewed automatically after the 12-month period lapses. However, administration account-holders will automatically receive a reminder email about renewing their subscription at least two weeks before the expiry date.

If you have already reached 100 per cent of your subscription's maximum limit, or attempt to submit a list that exceeds your subscription's maximum limit, a warning message will be displayed. You will be required to purchase another subscription (other than Type A), if you wish to continue washing your lists.

Washing contact lists

Properly formatting lists before submitting them to the register operator will help maintain the washing turnaround times, and help reduce the likelihood of invalid numbers being submitted and counted against a user's subscription.

In general, for a contact list to be washed by the register operator, it must:

  • be in comma separated variable (CSV) format
  • contain 10-digit numbers only, i.e., including the area code, but not country codes
  • include no other data fields, e.g., name and address, as these will be treated as invalid numbers
  • contain only a single column of numbers
  • terminate each record or row with a carriage return (ASCII 13) and line feed (ASCII 10)
  • be no larger than 10MB, compressed (zipped)
  • contain in its file name only characters from A-Z, 0-9 and underscores ('_'); e.g., ABC123.csv or ABC_123.csv but not ABC-123.csv
  • not contain customer ID numbers, as these will be treated as an invalid number.

The file extension must adhere to the following rules:

  • If the file is not compressed, the file extension must be one of the following: .csv, .txt, .dat
  • If the file is compressed, the file extension must reflect the compression format, such as '.zip' for WinZip or '.gz' for GZip.

Brackets, hyphens, dashes and spaces can be included in the telephone number format. Commas are not allowed because they are used as delimiters by the database processing code, and will be replaced by the text string "{COMMA}" before being marked invalid.

The following table provides some examples of acceptable and unacceptable number formats.

Acceptable

Unacceptable

Unacceptable

02 5550 5555

+61 2 5550 5555

Includes +61 and no leading 0

02-7010 5555

7010 5555

Does not include the area code

(04) 91 570 156

1800 160 401

Commences with a 1

(05) 5550 5556

0A 5550 5555

Includes the letter A

0255505555

02 5550 5555,

Includes a comma at the end

Any numbers that do not satisfy the criteria will be considered invalid and will not be washed. However, invalid numbers are counted as submitted numbers against a user's subscription.

Compressed file formats are encouraged.

Once a list is correctly formatted, the user can submit it by either:

  • using the Quick Check option for 10 numbers or less, on the Do Not Call Register industry website (Telemarketer Access Portal)
  • uploading via the industry website
  • using the Automated Washing Service (AWS), which uses secure File Transfer Protocol
  • sending it to the register operator on CD-ROM by certified mail.

All of these options are secure.

Automated washing service

An Automated Washing Service (AWS) is available to users who have created an administration account on the industry website and purchased a subscription Type D or higher level subscription. Once a user has registered as an AWS client, contact lists can be submitted using an automated interface (secure File Transfer Protocol) to the register operator.

To become an AWS client, email a request to the register operator at dncrsupport@salmat.com.au. For more information on the AWS service, please contact the register operator on 1300 785 749.

Return of washed lists

Once a contact list is submitted for washing, the register operator will wash it against the numbers on the Do Not Call Register.

Washing will generally take less than a minute depending on the size of the calling list, the load on the register operator's system at that time, and the preferred format for the returned washed list.

Depending on the preferred format of the washed list, the user will receive a washed list that includes:

  1. the numbers in the submitted contact list that are on the Register (single file)
  2. the numbers in the submitted contact list that are not on the Register (single file)
  3. both of the above (two separate files)
    or
  4. the submitted contact list, washed, with indicators (single file).

The numbers in the submitted contact list that are invalid and were not washed is automatically provided with a single file, as in 1, 2 or 3, above.

Please note that larger lists, or those requiring the inclusion of indicators as a returned file format, as in 4 above, will take slightly longer to wash.

With option 4, the following indicators will be included in the file:

Y = Yes, this number is on the Register or

N = No, this number is not on the Register or

I = Invalid, this number is invalid.

Any invalid numbers will be counted as a submitted number, will not be washed, and will need to be corrected and re-submitted for washing.

Washing receipt

At the completion of the washing process, the user will be provided with a list-washing receipt. This receipt is provided through the industry website or posted back with CD-ROM submissions. It will include the following important information:

  • a unique list-washing transaction ID
  • if an excess usage charge applies, the total dollar amount for this transaction, or the balance in terms of the quantity of number washes remaining for the subscription
  • the date when the subscription expires
  • time and date stamp for when the Register Operator received the submitted contact list
  • time and date stamp for when the user was informed about the numbers that were, or were not, on the Register
  • account details
  • a transaction summary for the submitted list:
    • total quantity of numbers in the submitted contact list that were on the Register
    • total quantity of numbers in the submitted contact list that were not on the Register
    • total quantity of purported numbers (by type) in the submitted contact list that have not been treated as numbers ('invalid numbers')
    • total quantity of numbers that were submitted for washing
  • a link to download the washed file(s)
  • the following reminder: 'Before using your washed list you should familiarise yourself with the provisions of subsections 11(3) and 12B(2) of the Do Not Call Register Act 2006. In general, under these subsections, the person who submitted a list for washing can rely on the information she or he receives in response to that request for a maximum of 30 days only.'

More detailed information about the washing process is on the Do Not Call Register industry website at www.donotcall.gov.au. If technical assistance is required, please call the Register Operator on 1300 785 749 or complete the enquiry form on the industry website.

Industry standards

In addition to establishing the register, the ACMA has made two national industry standards, one for telemarketing and research calls and one for marketing faxes.

The industry standards set out a minimum set of requirements for such calls and faxes, and are intended to provide consumers with greater certainty on the minimum level of conduct they can expect from those making unsolicited calls and marketing faxes.

Telecommunications (Telemarketing and research calls) industry standard 2017

Any individual or organisation that makes, or arranges for telemarketing or research calls to be made, including those that are exempt from the prohibition on calling telephone numbers on the Register (such as registered charities), needs to abide by the Telecommunications( telemarketing and research calls) industry standard. The industry standard applies to all voice calls made to Australian numbers that:

  • offer, advertise or promote goods, services, land, interests in land, business opportunities or investment opportunities
  • advertise or promote suppliers or prospective suppliers of such things
  • solicit donations
  • conduct opinion polling or standard questionnaire-based research.

The industry standard establishes minimum requirements for those making telemarketing and research calls in four main areas:

Restricting the calling hours and days for making telemarketing and research calls

Under the industry standard, a caller must not make or attempt to make a call on:

Research calls

Telemarketing calls

Weekdays

Before 9.00 am or after 8.30 pm

Before 9.00 am or after 8.00 pm

Saturdays

Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm

Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm

Sundays

Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm

All day

National public holidays

All day

All day

There is an exception to these rules: where consent has been given by the call recipient in advance to receive the call during the prohibited calling hours.

Where more stringent calling hour restrictions apply under a state or territory law, the more stringent law will continue to apply. The ACMA understands that currently state and territory laws regulate contact directed towards sales and do not directly regulate calling hours for research calls.

Requiring provision of specific information by the caller

Under the industry standard, a person making the telemarketing call must, at the start of the call, provide their contact information, the name of the person or business that caused the call to be made and explain the purpose of the call. A person making a research call must provide this information during the call.

On request, under the industry standard, callers must also provide the source of the telephone number. Further, the industry standard requires additional information to be provided if the call recipient requests it, including the name and contact details of any person responsible for dealing with consumer enquiries and complaints.

Providing for the termination of calls

The industry standard requires the caller to terminate the call in a range of circumstances, including where the call recipient asks for the call to be terminated or otherwise indicates that he or she does not want the call to continue.

Requiring callers to enable calling line identification

The caller is also required to ensure that calling line identification is enabled at the time that the caller makes or attempts to make a call.

Penalties apply for contraventions of the industry standard. These are outlined below in the Complaints and penalties section.

A copy of the telemarketing and research calls industry standard is available on the Do Not Call Register industry website at www.donotcall.gov.au.

Fax marketing industry standard

The Fax Marketing Industry Standard 2011 (the industry standard) sets rules about when and how fax marketers can contact people. Specifically, it includes requirements for:

  • when marketing faxes cannot be sent
  • information that must be provided on a marketing fax
  • providing an opt-out functionality
  • limiting the number of marketing faxes that can be sent to a number over a particular period.

The industry standard applies to all participants in the fax marketing industry including some individuals and organisations that are not covered by the general prohibition contained in the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (the DNCR Act).

This means that even if a particular business, such as a registered charitable organisation, is exempt from the requirements of the DNCR Act and therefore able to fax numbers listed on the Register, they must still meet the requirements contained in the fax marketing industry standard.

Broadly speaking a person is a participant in the fax marketing industry if they use marketing faxes to:

  • offer, advertise or promote goods or services, land or an interest in land, or a business or investment opportunity, or to promote a supplier or potential supplier of such goods or services
  • solicit donations
  • conduct opinion polling or
  • carry out standard questionnaire-based research.

Prohibited times for the sending of faxes

Fax marketers are not able to fax people during the times below, unless a fax recipient has consented to be faxed at that time. The term 'consent' has the same meaning as in the Act. Further information about consent is in DNCR consent provisions.

A sender must not send a marketing fax, or cause a marketing fax to be sent on:

  • a weekday before 9.00 am or after 8.00 pm
  • a Saturday before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm
  • a Sunday
  • a national public holiday.

The times set out above refer to the time of day at the fax recipient's usual residential address.

Information that must be provided on a marketing fax

A marketing fax must include the following information:

  • the name of fax advertiser
  • the Australian Business Number (ABN) of the fax advertiser, or equivalent business number identification if the person who authorised the sending of the fax is a foreign company
  • the contact details of the fax advertiser
  • the destination number that the fax is intended to be sent to
  • the details of how the recipient can send an opt-out message including:
    • a statement to the effect that the fax recipient may opt out of receiving any future faxes from the person who authorised the sending of the fax by conveying an opt-out message to an opt-out address and
    • an opt-out address to which fax recipients can communicate an opt-out message.

The information required must be:

  • displayed in a clear and conspicuous manner
  • included on the first page of the fax at a minimum
  • displayed using a minimum size 10 font.

Opt-out facility

A person can send to, leave at, or otherwise communicate an opt-out message to the opt-out address.

  1. A fax marketer must have in place processes to ensure that:
    • the opt-out address provided in the fax is capable of receiving opt-out messages at all times
    • remove the fax recipients numbers from any list of Australian numbers used by the sender as soon as possible, and no later than seven days, after receiving an opt-out message.

Limit on number of faxes to be sent to a recipient in a period

A person who sends faxes must make reasonable efforts to ensure that no more than 10 faxes that are authorised to be sent by the same fax advertiser are sent to a particular Australian number in any single 24 hour period.

Complaints and penalties

All complaints about the administration and operation of the Do Not Call Register must be lodged with the Do Not Call Register Operator. If the Register Operator is unable to respond to an enquiry or resolve a complaint, it may be referred to the ACMA.

Complaints about alleged contraventions of the DNCR Act or the industry standards may be lodged with the Register operator and will be referred to the ACMA for investigation.

Penalties imposed for breaches of the industry standard are determined by the provisions of the Telecommunications Act, rather than the DNCR Act. A breach of the industry standard would render a body corporate liable for a pecuniary penalty of up to $250,000 and a person other than a body corporate, $50,000 per breach. These penalties also apply to a person improperly involved in a breach of the standard.

Further information

Further information about the Do Not Call Register, the industry standard and the responsibilities of businesses can be found at:

The Do Not Call Register can also be contacted using:

  • the industry assistance line: 1300 785 749
  • email: enquiries@donotcall.gov.au 
  • post: PO Box 12169 A'Beckett Street Melbourne Vic 8006

Please note: This document is intended as a guide only and should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as legal advice in individual cases.

Last updated: 03 April 2017