What is a telemarketing call? | ACMA

What is a telemarketing call?

What is a telemarketing call?

 It is against the law for unsolicited telemarketing calls to be made to a number listed on the Do Not Call Register (DNCR) unless consent has been given for the call or the call is exempt from the rules.
A telemarketing call is a voice call made to a telephone number to offer, supply, provide, advertise or promote goods or services.
The purpose of the call is assessed against its content. Under this definition, a telemarketing call has two key elements:
  • it must be a voice call 
  • it must have a specific commercial purpose (although some commercial calls are excluded from the definition of a telemarketing call, as outlined below).
Some telemarketing calls that may have a commercial purpose are exempt from the DNCR obligations, such as calls from charities. These are known as ‘designated telemarketing calls’.

Voice calls

A ‘Voice call’ may include a message from a recorded or synthetic voice and also includes a telemarketer leaving a message on an answering service. It also encompasses calls made to people who have a speech or hearing impairment and who use facilities that do not rely solely on voices, such as TTY devices and calls made through the National Relay Service.

Commercial purpose

‘Telemarketing calls’ are calls made for commercial purposes. These calls include those made to offer, supply, provide, advertise or promote goods or services. Common examples include:
  • A business opportunity or investment opportunity—this includes calls from investment companies promoting particular portfolios or schemes.
  • Soliciting donations—however, many calls to solicit donations will be made by, or on behalf of, organisations such as charities. Charities are exempt from the DNCR obligations and are able to call numbers listed on the DNCR (subject to certain obligations in the Telemarketing and Research Industry Standard).

Some further examples of telemarketing calls under the Act are:

  • customer satisfaction calls that have an intention to solicit sales;
  • calls that offer free goods as part of, or together with, overall sales campaigns;
  • calls requesting the person attend an information seminar, the purpose of which is to sell goods or services;

  • calls inviting subscription to a contact list that will be used as a basis for future sales calls;
  • calls offering trialware—free use of a product for a set period, with an option for financial subscription or purchase afterwards;
  • calls made to obtain the person’s consent to receive future telemarketing calls;
  • calls offering subscriptions for a set period of time at a special rate.

Calls that are not telemarketing calls

 The following calls are not considered telemarketing calls—they do not have a commercial purpose:
  • product recall calls
  • fault rectification calls
  • appointment rescheduling or reminder calls
  • calls about payments
  • solicited calls
  • one of the above call types that is not answered by the intended recipient of the call.

Further information

Further information about the Do Not Call Register can be found at www.donotcall.gov.au or by calling 1300 792 958. 

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


Last updated: 22 March 2017