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Action on spam and telemarketing: October to December 2021

 Our key actions


Over 357 million scam calls blocked in first 12 months of new rules being in force


$128,760 in penalties paid by 2 financial services businesses. We accepted 5 businesses court-enforceable undertakings

Compliance alerts

We gave 962 compliance alerts to businesses


Social media and online campaign on how to deal with scams, including focus on older Australians


More than $2.2 million in penalties paid by businesses for breaching spam and telemarketing 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

We engaged with 128 businesses marketing financial products and services to warn them about compliance issues and reach compliance outcomes.

We finalised 3 investigations into financial services businesses and announced that 2 businesses paid penalties, totaling $128,760. We also accepted court-enforceable undertakings from 5 businesses in the sector for unlawful spam and/or telemarketing.

Combating phone scams

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

  • reported that 357 million scam calls were blocked by telcos under the Reducing Scam Calls rules from 2 December 2020 to 30 November 2021.  We provided de-identified complaint data to telcos to help them identify these calls
  • consulted on proposed new rules to help prevent scammers from targeting high-risk customer interactions with telcos, such as SIM swap requests and billing enquiries
  • launched a phone scam awareness campaign on social media and online to boost consumer confidence to identify and protect themselves from phone scams
  • warned consumers about scammers targeting Gumtree users with a fake WhatsApp or SMS messages with a request to click on a link to 'receive funds' for the listed item
  • signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to enable exchange of information to keep Australians safe from phone scams
  • worked behind the scenes with telcos, government agencies and other trusted brands to disrupt phone scams.

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

Key compliance issue: Changes to unsubscribe requirements

New regulations came into effect in April 2021 that clarified requirements on businesses to make it easy for consumers to unsubscribe from electronic marketing messages.

The Spam Regulations 2021 make it clear that message unsubscribe or stop functions must not require consumers to:

  • provide personal information (other than the electronic address to which a marketing email or SMS was sent)
  • create or log in to an account.

Businesses should review their unsubscribe procedures against the regulations to ensure they are compliant.

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

Investigations and enforcement

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

Investigations took 2.6 months on average to complete.

We also actively monitored compliance with 12 court-enforceable commitments setting out actions businesses must take to comply with spam and/or 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

Chart 1: Finalised investigations


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.

  • 23.4% of telemarketing and 32% of spam complaints were about scams.
  • The most common complaints were about retail, financial services and the building/ maintenance sectors.
  • 43.4% 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.

Chart 2: Complaints

Note: We have also received 43 complaints about commercial instant messages year to date.

Compliance alerts

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

Chart 3: Compliance alerts

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.

Access the data

Download the data for the charts in this report:

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