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Avoid sending spam

If you send or have someone else send out your marketing emails or messages, you need to know about spam laws.

The Spam Act 2003 sets out your responsibilities under Australian law.

How to comply

If you plan to send marketing messages or emails, you must first have permission from the person who will receive them.

Even if someone else is sending out your marketing messages for you, you must still have permission from each person who will receive your messages.

After you get permission, you must ensure your message:

Get permission

There are two types of permission:

  • express
  • inferred

Express permission

A person who gives express permission knows and accepts that they will receive marketing emails or messages from you.

People can give express permission by one of the following:

  • filling in a form
  • ticking a box on a website
  • over the phone
  • face to face

You cannot send an electronic message to ask for permission, because this is a marketing message.

Keep a record when a person gives express permission, including who gave the permission and how.

Under the Act, it's up to you to prove that you got a person's permission.

Inferred permission

You may infer that a person gives permission to get your marketing messages if:

  • they are a current customer
  • the message you want to send is related to the product or service they already bought from you

You may also infer permission if a person has:

  • made their email address or phone number public, such as online or in a directory

and 

  • the person does not state that they do not want commercial messages
  • the phone number or email is for an individual or office holder
  • the subject of your message relates directly to the person’s role or function
  • there is a link between what you are promoting and the person getting the message

Under the Act, it's up to you to prove that you can infer permission.

Know your responsibilities for email lists

Take care when you buy or use a marketing list.

You are still responsible for making sure you have permission for any addresses you use. 

Identify yourself as the sender

In your message, you must:

  • accurately identify your name or business name
  • include correct contact details for you or your business

If someone else sends messages on your behalf, the message must still identify you as the business that authorised the message. Use the correct legal name of your business, or your name and Australian Business Number (ABN).

This information must remain correct for at least 30 days after you send the message.

Make it easy to unsubscribe

You need to make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your electronic mailing lists.

Under the Spam Act, every commercial message must contain an 'unsubscribe' option that:

  • presents unsubscribe instructions clearly
  • honours a request to unsubscribe within 5 working days
  • does not require the payment of a fee
  • does not cost more than the usual amount for using the address (such as a standard text charge)
  • is functional for at least 30 days after you sent the message

Unsubscribe examples that are clearly worded

Email:

To stop receiving messages from us, simply reply to this email with 'unsubscribe' in the subject line.

If you no longer wish to receive these messages, please click the 'unsubscribe' button below.

SMS:

Reply STOP

Unsub: (1800-number)

Other actions that may break the spam rules

Under the Spam Act, you cannot:

  • use or supply a list that has been created with address-harvesting software
  • use or supply address-harvesting software

It is also against the spam rules to:

  • help, guide or work with another person to break the spam rules
  • encourage another person to break the spam rules
  • be directly or indirectly, knowingly concerned with breaking the spam rules

Ask for or provide information

If you or someone else breaks the spam rules, you can tell us.

If you do break the spam rules, telling us may help to fix the issue quickly. We review all cases individually, but it may be resolved without further action.

We value all information because it helps identify trends and spot serious or ongoing issues.

Contact us

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