Spam complaints policy | ACMA

Spam complaints policy


The ACMA is responsible for the enforcement of the Spam Act 2003 (the Spam Act) and accepts complaints, reports and enquiries about spam from the Australian public. This process is managed by the Anti-spam Team (AST).

Complaints can be submitted to the ACMA by the completion of an online form, specifically tailored to whether the complaint is about an electronic message sent by email, SMS or MMS, or instant message, as covered by the Spam Act.

Spam email can be reported to the ACMA by forwarding the message by email to Spam SMS can be reported by forwarding the message to 0429 999 888.

To learn more about why the ACMA is collecting personal information as part of this process, and the purposes for which that information will be used, please see the Collection Notification information here.

Enquiries can be made by telephone to 1300 855 180.

Important note:
When forwarding an email message, please do not change the subject line of the message or add additional text. The ACMA will only contact you in relation to a report if it requires further information to assist it in its anti-spam activities.


The complaints handling policy is intended to provide guidance to the Australian public on how complaints, reports and enquiries about spam are managed by the ACMA.

Terms and definitions

For the purposes of this document, the terms and definitions found in the Spam Act apply.

complainant—person, organisation or its representative, making a complaint.

complaint—expression of dissatisfaction made to the ACMA about spam, where a reporter has specific qualitative information they wish to add.

enquiry—a request for information.

message sender—person, organisation or its representative who it is alleged sent, or caused to be sent, the electronic message which is the subject of the complaint or report.

report—an advice of spam activity directed to the ACMA's anti-spam databases. These will not be actioned individually but assist the ACMA in its anti-spam activities.

report email address—the email address that can be used by the public to report email spam to the ACMA.

Important note:

When forwarding an email message, please do not change the subject line of the message or add additional text. The ACMA will only contact you in relation to a report if it requires further information to assist it in its anti-spam activities.

respondent—the individual or organisation identified that is the subject of a complaint about spam activity to the ACMA.

submitter—a person submitting a complaint, enquiry or report through the ACMA website. A submitter becomes a complainant when their submission is accepted as a complaint by the ACMA.

spam—unsolicited commercial electronic messages.

Spam SMS—the dedicated telephone number 0429 999 888 that can be used to report spam SMS to the ACMA.

transcript—for the purposes of this policy, a transcript is a copy of an email, SMS, MMS or instant message that is the subject of the complaint, report or enquiry.

Guiding principles

All staff at the ACMA must comply with the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct.

This policy should be read in tandem with the ACMA's Client Service Charter.

The ACMA’s Privacy Policy contains information including how you can access and correct personal information, how you can make a complaint about the ACMA’s compliance with the Privacy Act and Privacy contact details.

Online submission of complaints

Difference between complaints and reports

By using the online form, the ACMA will generally consider the submission a complaint providing a complainant has given the requisite information. By using the report email address and/or Spam SMS, the submission will be considered a report.

Provision of information

Submitters must provide an email address and a copy of the email received when making a complaint. The email address will be used to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and to contact the complainant if further information is required about their complaint.

The ACMA requires specific information from a complainant in order to assess a complaint. This information is specified in the online submission form.

In the event a complainant does not provide sufficient information, the submission may be treated as a report.

It is not compulsory for header details to an email message that is the subject of complaint to be provided at the time of submission. However, the ACMA may request this information at a later date to assist in any investigation relating to the complaint. It is, however, compulsory for the content of the email message to be provided.

Anonymous complaints

Anonymous complaints are accepted. However, in order for the ACMA to resolve a complaint, you must provide consent to the ACMA disclosing your electronic address to the respondent, if the ACMA considers this appropriate. The ACMA may not be able to fully resolve an anonymous complaint.

Handling submissions

Each complaint, enquiry and report is given a unique identifying number. This number is advised to the submitter at the time of submission.

Staff will assess each complaint on a case-by-case basis. ACMA staff will determine if the message within the complaint has an Australian link and is therefore regulated by the Spam Act. Staff will also determine whether the complaint is more suitable for an alternate agency.

If a complainant has not brought their complaint to the attention of the message sender, the ACMA may, in the first instance, ask the complainant to contact the respondent directly to attempt to resolve the complaint. This may include using an unsubscribe facility.

The submission of the complaint form provides the ACMA with express consent to release the complainant's electronic address to the message sender, should this be deemed necessary by the ACMA. Circumstances where disclosure of the complainant's electronic address will be necessary include to request for the electronic address to be removed from the mailing list of a legitimate Australian or overseas business.

If the complainant does not wish to provide consent to release the electronic address, the spam can be reported to the ACMA using the report email address or Spam SMS.

The complainant will not necessarily be advised of the outcome of its communications with the message sender.

Instant messages

However, complaints submitted about instant messages will include the option to choose whether or not express consent to release the complainant's electronic address is provided. If the complainant does not wish to provide consent to release the electronic address, the submission will be treated as a report. This exception is provided for instant messages because of the inability to report instant messages via the medium they are received, as well as the ACMA's wish to provide the option to report spam anonymously.

Reports submitted using the report email address

The ACMA will acknowledge reports automatically.

In the acknowledgement, the ACMA will advise the submitter that the submission will be regarded as a report. The ACMA will not respond to any additional information provided in the report from the submitter unless it requires further information to assist it in its anti-spam activities. 

Reports of email spam are stored in the ACMA's Spam Intelligence Database. In some instances, the ACMA may contact a submitter to request further information or a written statement.

Spam SMS—reporting spam by SMS

The ACMA's 0429 999 888 telephone number (Spam SMS) is a reporting mechanism for SMS spam. Forwarding an SMS message will not stop the receipt of unwanted SMS messages and is not an unsubscribe mechanism. The submission of a Spam SMS report will incur the cost of sending a standard SMS, as per the submitter's mobile telephone provider's rates.

Spam SMS submissions are treated as reports unless accompanied by an online complaint form submission. Submitters will receive an SMS message acknowledging their submission.

All Spam SMS submissions will be given a unique identification number and this should be quoted in any follow-up complaint information or correspondence with the ACMA.

Registering for Spam SMS

Registering for Spam SMS will not stop the receipt of unwanted SMS messages.

The ACMA may request the registered submitter provides further information about the SMS message that has been submitted.

Complainants have the option to register their details for Spam SMS during the online submission process. Previous complainants (those who lodged complaints after 1 April 2010) are not automatically registered for Spam SMS.


The ACMA will action enquiries within six working days of receipt.

Information provided in response to enquiries is intended as a guide only and while every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, it should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases.

It is at the ACMA's discretion to determine whether to refer a submitter to a more appropriate agent. In the event an enquiry is referred, the submitter will be advised.

Telephone complaints and enquiries

The ACMA accepts telephone complaints, reports and enquiries.

The ACMA may request further information to be submitted electronically, including a copy of the electronic message.

Anonymous complaints may be made by telephone. 

Review of complaints

As per the ACMA's Client Service Charter, if a complainant is not happy with the way that their complaint has been handled, the matter can be escalated by contacting the Commonwealth Ombudsman.


If the ACMA is unable to resolve a complaint, it will consider whether it is appropriate to commence a formal investigation under the Telecommunications Act 1997 regarding the message sender's compliance with the Spam Act 2003.

The ACMA will inform the respondent where a formal investigation is commenced, and the complainant after the investigation. Note: Under the Telecommunications Act 1997, the ACMA may not advise a respondent of an investigation.

The ACMA may request that a complainant make a formal written statement in relation to the complaint. In the written statement, the ACMA may ask the complainant to formally respond to assertions made by the respondent in relation to the complaint.

The ACMA will advise the complainant of the outcomes of the investigation as the ACMA's internal policies allow.

Last updated: 22 February 2017