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Action on spam and telemarketing: October to December 2020

Our key actions

We registered new rules that require telcos to detect, trace and block scam calls


We commenced 8 investigations into financial services businesses for alleged breaches of telemarketing and spam laws


We accepted court-enforceable commitments from Tyro Payments Limited for spam breaches

We gave 588 compliance alerts to businesses


We launched new resources to help First Nations Australians spot and stop scams

Our priorities

Unlawful financial service marketing and phone scams are our focus areas for 2020–21.

View all the ACMA’s current compliance priorities.

Unlawful financial service marketing

During the quarter, we:

  • Commenced 8 investigations into financial services entities.
  • Contacted over 400 financial services businesses to warn them about their compliance obligations.
  • Contacted key industry bodies to promote compliance to their members.
  • Accepted an enforceable undertaking from payments provider Tyro Payments Limited, after it sent more than 150,000 spam emails and SMS messages to consumers without an unsubscribe function in 2019 and 2020.

Combating scams

We continue to implement our Combating scams: Action plan. During the quarter, we:

  • Registered the Reducing Scam Calls industry code developed by Communications Alliance Ltd. The new code requires telcos to identify, trace, report and block scam calls.
  • Launched resources to help First Nations Australians spot and stop phone scams.
  • Worked behind the scenes with government agencies and telcos to disrupt SMS scams.
  • Disrupted scams impersonating government and other trusted brands.
  • Continued sharing de-identified data with telcos, helping them identify and block scam calls.

We issued a scam alert on Facebook and Twitter warning of scammers impersonating Amazon.

Find out more about how to protect yourself from scams.

Contact tracing

We reminded businesses that phone numbers and email addresses obtained for contact tracing purposes cannot be used for e-marketing. Businesses may face serious penalties for misusing this type of information.

Find out more about use of consent to send commercial messages and contact tracing.

Investigations and enforcement

We finalised 8 investigations in the quarter. We commenced 8 in the same period.

Investigations took 3.4 months on average to complete.

View our enforcement actions for breaches of spam and telemarketing laws.

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

Finalised investigations

Figure 1


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

  • 36.1% of telemarketing and 29.2% of spam complaints were about scams.
  • The most common complaints were about the solar telemarketing, financial services, retail and gambling industries.
  • 40.1% of complaints about telemarketing did not contain enough detail to identify the caller. Giving us as much information as possible helps us to stop non-compliance.

Figure 2

Note: We also received 19 complaints about commercial instant messages this quarter.

Compliance alerts

We generally alert businesses about potential compliance issues raised in complaints. We provide details to the business where the complainant has given us permission to do so. If the issues continue, we may investigate. One alert can include several issues or complaints.

Figure 3

More information

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

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