This is the first significant enforcement action the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced under its crackdown on unlawful marketing practices in the financial services sector.
The ACMA found that Kalkine made over 7,200 calls to more than 5,400 phone numbers on the Do Not Call Register from January to September 2020, while Kalkine Media sent 2,774 spam emails to more than 2,700 recipients without their consent during the same period.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the investigations followed consumer complaints about the companies using marketing to secure new customers for services, including stock market reports.
“This unlawful marketing was an intrusion on the privacy of thousands of Australians,” she said.
“Our investigations showed both businesses had poor compliance systems and no compliance culture to prevent the breaches.”
Ms O’Loughlin said she was disappointed the ACMA had to take enforcement action after both companies were warned about the issue.
“Both entities failed to take early action when alerted to potential compliance issues by the ACMA prior to commencing our investigation,” she said.
“We are focussing our efforts on the financial services sector because of the potential for broader financial harms and impacts involved.
“Unwanted calls and spam have significant social and economic impacts. They can lead to serious harm for people in vulnerable circumstances who may agree to spend money on products and services they don’t want or need.”
As well as paying the financial penalties, both companies must conduct independent reviews of their systems, processes and procedures under two-year court-enforceable undertakings accepted by the ACMA.
Over the past 18 months, businesses have paid $2,469,000 in ACMA-issued infringement notices for breaking spam and telemarketing laws. The ACMA has also accepted 11 court-enforceable undertakings and issued eight formal warnings to businesses.
Enforcement action for breaches of Australia’s unsolicited communications laws can include formal warnings, infringement notices, action in the Federal Court and court-enforceable undertakings.
For more information on how to reduce unwanted communications or to make a complaint, visit the ACMA website.