Unsolicited communications priorities 2018–19 | ACMA

Unsolicited communications priorities 2018–19

In 2018–19, the ACMA will target three areas of concern:

  1. solar industry telemarketing
  2. financial services telemarketing and e-marketing
  3. SMS spam.

Industry is on notice that for each area, we will:

  • investigate and take enforcement action
  • promote responsible industry practice
  • educate consumers about their rights and how to protect themselves
  • work with consumer groups, industry bodies and other government agencies to raise awareness and address unlawful activity.

The ACMA will work with other regulators, including the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australian Securities and Investment Commission and Clean Energy Regulator, to target and act on the sources of non-compliance.

Priority 1: Solar industry telemarketing

What’s the issue?

The ACMA receives complaints and other intelligence about solar products and services telemarketing. Telemarketing is conducted by businesses directly selling their products and services, and by other companies known as ‘lead generators’. Lead generators make calls to enquire if people are interested in products or services, then sell these ‘leads’ to businesses as potential customers.  

Some lead generation practices, particularly where caller information is vague, or consumers’ details are repeatedly on-sold, can make it more difficult for consumers to exercise control over their consent to receive calls.

What actions are we taking?

The ACMA will target:

  • serious or systemic non-compliance
  • lead generators that call consumers on the Do Not Call Register without consent
  • businesses that rely on these leads without taking appropriate steps to verify consent—because the obligation and burden of proof lie with the business
  • data-brokers/lead generators who aid, abet or are a party to non-compliance by others.

Where there is evidence of ongoing, serious or systemic non-compliance, the ACMA is likely to investigate. Where breaches are found, there can be significant financial penalties.

The solar industry was a focus area in 2017–18 and remains a priority this year due to ongoing indications of non-compliance.  As this is the second consecutive year we are focusing on the sector, the ACMA will consider escalated compliance action, including applying to the Federal Court for pecuniary penalties where systemic or serious non-compliance is found.

Priority 2: Financial services telemarketing and e-marketing

What’s the issue?

The ACMA receives complaints and other intelligence about financial services marketing. As well as intruding and impacting on the privacy of individuals, the ACMA is concerned that financial services marketing has the potential to involve additional serious harms, especially where it involves complex or misleading products and predatory marketing practices to target people in vulnerable circumstances.

What actions are we taking?

The ACMA will:

  • investigate serious or systemic non-compliance
  • focus on lead generation and use of non-compliant marketing lists
  • work with industry bodies to educate businesses such as lenders about their obligations, including ensuring they have the consent to conduct marketing.

Priority 3: SMS spam

What’s the issue?

The ACMA receives complaints and other intelligence alleging non-compliance with spam laws, particularly SMS messages to mobile phones.

Australia’s spam laws specify that commercial SMS messages must:

  • only be sent with the consent of the recipient (the account-holder)
  • include clear sender information
  • contain an unsubscribe function.

What actions are we taking?

The ACMA will:

  • take additional steps to encourage consumers to report issues
  • investigate serious or systemic non-compliance
  • focus on lead generation and use of non-compliant marketing lists
  • work with industry bodies and sectors to educate about their obligations.

Consumer education priorities

To further empower consumers, the ACMA will conduct targeted awareness raising campaigns in 2018–19 for:

  1. Consent—including how consumers give permission to receive marketing, how their details might be used, and how to take back permission.
  2. Do Not Call Register (DNCR) awareness for older Australians—including how to register and how complain to the ACMA. The ACMA will also highlight the protections in the Telemarketing Industry Standard, including permitted call times, required caller information, and the obligation for callers to terminate calls upon request.

Last updated: 01 October 2018