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Action on spam and telemarketing: January to March 2021

Our key actions

Scams

55 million scam calls blocked under new rules

Penalties

$310,800 penalty paid by Kogan Australia for spam breaches

$79,800 penalty paid by Telco First Pty Ltd for spam breaches

Court enforceable commitments

Court-enforceable commitments accepted from Seek the Deal Pty Ltd, Kogan Australia and Telco First

Compliance alerts

1,089 compliance alerts given to businesses

Penalties $2,194,500 in paid penalties by businesses in the last 2 years

Our priorities

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

During the quarter, we continued to engage with businesses that market financial products and services to alert them of compliance issues.

We also pursued investigations into:

  • several businesses marketing financial services
  • 3 telcos for potential non-compliance with rules to prevent identity theft scams.

View all the ACMA’s current compliance priorities.

Combating scams

We are taking the fight to scammers to disrupt their ‘business’ model and protect Australians. During the quarter, we:

  • Announced that telcos had blocked over 55 million calls in the 3 months since we registered the new Reducing Scam Calls industry code.
  • Issued consumer warnings about scams using well-known brands, including eBay, Microsoft and the Tax Office.
  • Worked behind the scenes with government agencies and telcos to disrupt SMS scams.
  • Continued to share de-identified consumer complaint data with telcos to help them identify and block scam calls.

Find out more about how to protect yourself from phone scams.

 

COVID-19 vaccination scams

We warned Australians about COVID-19 vaccinations scams and gave advice on how to spot – and stop – them.

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

 

Key compliance issues: Unsubscribe

Unfortunately, we continue to find businesses failing to:

  • provide unsubscribe functions in commercial messages
  • action ‘stop’ or unsubscribe messages from consumers.

We recently found Kogan Australia sent more than 42 million marketing emails to consumers from which they could not easily unsubscribe. Instead, Kogan required consumers to take extra steps setting up a password and logging into a Kogan account.

Kogan has paid a $310,800 penalty and we have accepted court-enforceable commitments to address its non-compliance.

Both Woolworths Group Limited and Singtel Optus Pty Ltd have also recently paid large financial penalties for failing to have adequate unsubscribe processes.

Businesses are on notice that they must have compliant unsubscribe systems and practices in place. The penalties for breaching can be financially serious and reputationally damaging.

Find out more about how to comply.

Investigations and enforcement

We finalised 2 investigations and commenced 5 in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, we had 10 investigations underway.

Investigations took 3.2 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

Graph 1

Complaints

Consumer complaints directly inform our actions and help us identify issues and trends. We provide de-identified complaint data to telcos to help them identify and block scam calls.

  • 37.3% of telemarketing and 32% of spam complaints were about scams.
  • The most common complaints were about the financial services, retail, solar telemarketing and gambling industries.
  • 40% 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.

Graph 2

Note: We also received 11 complaints about commercial instant messages this quarter.

Compliance alerts

We alert businesses about potential compliance issues raised in complaints where we can. We provide details to the business when the person complaining gives us permission. If the issues continue, we may investigate. One alert can include several issues or complaints.

Graph 3

More information

Find out more about spam and telemarketing rules and what actions you can take, including making a complaint.

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