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Action on spam and telemarketing: July to September 2021

Our key actions


Over 214 million scam calls blocked in first 7 months of new rules


We warned 5 financial services businesses for breaching spam and telemarketing laws

Compliance alerts

We gave 1,090 compliance alerts to businesses


Consumer alerts issued for COVID-19, ‘Flubot’ malware SMS and tax -time scams


More than $2.5 million in penalties paid by businesses for breaching laws in the last 2 years

Our priorities

Unlawful financial service marketing and phone scams are an ACMA focus in 2021–22.

View our current compliance priorities.


Unlawful financial services marketing

During the quarter, we continued to engage with businesses marketing financial products and services to warn them about compliance issues.

We finalised 2 investigations into financial services businesses and announced 5 businesses in the sector had been warned for unlawful marketing.

Key compliance issue: Outsourced marketing

We continue to see businesses outsourcing their telemarketing and e-marketing to third parties or purchasing marketing lists from external providers. While this can be an effective business practice, entities must be aware that they cannot outsource their obligations under the spam and telemarketing laws through commercial or other arrangements.

If you are a business and a third party is working on your behalf – or if you’ve purchased marketing lists from an external provider – it is your responsibility to make sure that your marketing practices are compliant.

Some key points to remember:

  • Even if someone else is sending out your messages or making phone calls, you must still have the consent of each person contacted and be able to prove it if we ask for details.
  • Take care when you buy or use a marketing list. You are still responsible for having consent to market to any addresses or phone numbers. Ask for proof of consent when you buy lists.
  • If someone claims to be ‘washing’ numbers against the Do Not Call Register, ask for receipts regularly and check them.

Find out more about how to avoid breaching the spam and telemarketing rules.

Combating phone scams

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

  • Reported that over 214 million scams calls were blocked by telcos under the Reducing Scam Calls industry code from 2 December 2020 to 31 June 2021.
  • Warned consumers about:
    • scammers targeting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout
    • voicemail and parcel delivery SMS ‘Flubot’ scams with malicious links
    • phone scams involving fictious tax debts and refunds.
  • Worked behind the scenes with telcos, government agencies and other trusted brands to disrupt SMS and phone scams.
  • 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.

Investigations and enforcement

We finalised 3 investigations and commenced 2 in the quarter. We had 5 investigations underway at the end of the quarter.

Investigations took 3.4 months on average to complete.

We also monitored compliance with 11 court-enforceable commitments given by businesses. These set out the actions they must take to comply with spam/telemarketing laws.

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


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.

  • 33.8% of telemarketing and 14.1% of spam complaints were about scams.
  • The most common complaints were about the solar telemarketing, financial services, retail and gambling industries.
  • 41.8% 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 29 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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