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Action on spam and telemarketing: April to June 2021

Key actions

Penalties

Kalkine financial services businesses paid $352,200 in ACMA-given penalties for spam and telemarketing breaches

Penalties

Over $2.5 million in penalties paid in the last 2 years

Formal Warnings

We formally warned 4 businesses for breaching spam and telemarketing laws

Compliance alerts

We gave 1,030 compliance alerts to businesses

Scam

We agreed to collaborate with the Federal Communications Commission (USA) to address unsolicited communications, including scams

Our priorities

Unlawful financial service marketing and phone scams were a focus in 2020–21 and will continue to be in 2021–22.

View all of our current compliance priorities.

Unlawful financial services marketing

We continued to directly engage with businesses marketing financial products and services to alert them to compliance issues during the quarter.

We finalised 6 investigations:

  • Kalkine Pty Ltd and Kalkine Media Pty Ltd paid penalties of $352,200 for breaching telemarketing and spam laws. We also accepted court-enforceable undertakings from both businesses.
  • We formally warned Lastminuteloan.com Pty Ltd and IPF Digital Australia Pty Ltd (t/a Credit24) for breaching spam laws.
  • We formally warned Martin and Hunt Pty Ltd and Chase Edwards & Associates Pty Ltd for breaching telemarketing laws.

Combating phone scams

We are taking the fight to scammers to disrupt their activities and protect Australians. During the quarter, we:

  • Issued formal warnings to 3 telcos (Telstra, Medion and Optus) for breaching identity verification rules. These rules are made to protect consumers from identity theft.
  • We agreed to collaborate with the Federal Communications Commission (USA) to combat unlawful robocalls, unsolicited texts and phone scams.  This will include the sharing of intelligence, and coordination of investigation and enforcement activities.
  • Warned consumers about scammers targeting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
  • Worked behind the scenes with government agencies and telcos to disrupt SMS scams targeting government messaging about COVID-19.
  • Provided de-identified complaint data to telcos to help them identify and block scam calls.

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

The impact of COVID-19 on traditional bricks and mortar businesses and the large number of Australians working from home over the past year has seen an increase in electronic marketing and online sales platforms.

This has contributed to an increase in spam complaints to the ACMA. These are up 63% from 2019–20.

Businesses must not undertake e-marketing such as email, SMS and instant messaging without consent. Where they have consent, they must be able to prove it with accurate and clear records.

Entities need to remember that they still have compliance obligations when relying on others to send messages on their behalf. This includes when purchasing contact lists or leads.

Find out more about the consent rules.

Investigations and enforcement

We finalised 6 investigations and commenced one in the quarter. We had 7 investigations underway at the end of the quarter.

Investigations took 3.5 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 also provide de-identified complaint data to telcos to help them identify and block scam calls.

In the June 2021 quarter:

  • 37.5% of telemarketing and 18.8% of spam complaints were about scams.
  • The most common complaints were about the financial services, retail, solar telemarketing and gambling industries.
  • 40.4% 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 12 complaints about commercial instant messages this quarter.

Compliance alerts

We alert businesses about potential compliance issues raised in complaints (where we can identify the business). We provide details to the business when the person complaining has given us permission. If the issues continue, we may investigate. One alert can relate to 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.

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

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