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Action on spam and telemarketing: April to June 2020

Key actions


$1,753,500 in penalties paid by businesses in the last 12 months


Our actions drove a 54% reduction in solar telemarketing complaints

Compliance alerts

We gave 1,097 compliance alerts to businesses

Phone identity

We rolled out new identity check rules to fight mobile number fraud


Successful trial to stop spoofing of Tax Office numbers completed

Our priorities

Our compliance priority areas for 2020–21 include:

  • phone scams (including mobile number fraud)
  • financial services marketing.

We received more complaints about financial services spam and telemarketing in 2019–20 than any other industry, with over 3000 complaints registered.

The telco industry and financial services marketers are on notice they must comply, and the penalties for breaking the law can be serious.

Solar telemarketing was a focus area in 2019–20. Though our actions, we have seen a 54% reduction in complaints about the sector since 2017.

View all our 2020–21 compliance priorities.

Combating scams

We are implementing our Combating scams action plan. Key actions this quarter included:

  • New ACMA rules to prevent mobile number fraud came into force on 30 April 2020.
  • Industry consulted on a Reducing Scam Calls Industry Code containing obligations on telco providers to identify, trace, block and otherwise disrupt scam calls.
  • A trial was successfully conducted to prevent spoofing of Australian Tax Office phone numbers. This means scammers cannot falsely use these numbers to trick consumers into thinking it’s a call from the ATO.

We issued regular consumer scam alerts through social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

Investigations and enforcement

View our investigations into spam and telemarketing.

We had 11 investigations in progress in this quarter. We take 4 months on average to complete investigations.

Find out about our compliance and enforcement role and the penalties for breaking the rules.

Finished investigations

Figure 1

Compliance alerts

We generally alert businesses about compliance issues raised in complaints. If the issues continue, we may investigate. One alert can include several issues or complaints.

Figure 2


Consumer complaints directly inform our actions and help us identify issues and trends.

  • This year, we have seen a 16% decrease on last year in complaints about telemarketing. There has been an 8% increase in complaints about spam. The decrease in telemarketing complaints is largely due to a 40% drop in complaints between March and May 2020. This is when COVID-19 related restrictions were being introduced on businesses in Australia and overseas.
  • 40.2% of telemarketing and 23.8% of spam complaints were about scams.
  • The other most common complaints were about financial services, retail marketing and solar telemarketing.
  • 30.3% of complaints about telemarketing did not contain enough details to identify the caller.

Figure 3

Note: In 2019–20, the ACMA also received 19 complaints about instant message spam.

More information

Find out more about spam and telemarketing rules and what actions you can take.

Subscribe to our newsletters to get updates about our actions on telemarketing, spam and scams.

Access the data

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