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Telco First pays $79,800 penalty for spam text messages

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Marketing company Telco First (trading as Compare With Us) has paid a $79,800 infringement notice after an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found it sent more than 65,000 illegal spam text messages.

Telco First sent the messages through another business that used artificial intelligence so text messages could be sent out to more than 40,000 phone numbers between March and August 2019.

ACMA Authority Member Fiona Cameron said there are no excuses for breaches of spam laws, even if the breaches occur in messages sent by other businesses operating on their behalf.

“Businesses need to know they cannot outsource their compliance obligations,” Ms Cameron said.

“These types of unwelcome text messages are frustrating for mobile phone users. They can cause anxiety and confusion about who is sending them and why.”

Telco First breached the Spam Act 2003 because it was responsible for messages that were sent without the consent of the recipients, did not identify the sender or did not have an unsubscribe function.

“Businesses need to check they have obtained consent and keep a record of it before they conduct SMS marketing. They should have robust arrangements in place to confirm other businesses operating on their behalf are doing the same.”

Telco First has also made court-enforceable commitments to the ACMA to appoint an independent consultant to review its spam compliance measures before conducting further e-marketing.

This is the second time the ACMA has given penalties to Telco First for breaching unsolicited communications laws. In September 2018, Telco First (then trading as Lead My Way Pty Ltd) paid a $285,600 infringement notice for making telemarketing calls to numbers on the Do Not Call Register without consent.

“Given its history of non-compliance, we will be monitoring Telco First’s conduct closely and we will not hesitate to take further action if we find breaches in the future.”

Over the past 18 months, businesses have paid $2,194,500 in infringement notices for breaking spam and telemarketing laws. In the same period, the ACMA has also accepted 12 court-enforceable undertakings and issued 11 formal warnings to businesses.

Breaches of Australia’s spam rules can result in the ACMA seeking civil penalties in the Federal Court, giving an infringement notice, accepting court-enforceable undertakings or issuing a formal warning. Repeat corporate offenders may face penalties of up to $2.22 million a day.

Find out how to reduce unwanted communications or make a complaint.

MR 07/2021

For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or media@acma.gov.au.

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