ACMA Update Reveals the Ongoing Fight to Disrupt Scammers


The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a telemarketing and spam update detailing its efforts to disrupt scammers in the January – March 2024 quarter. It says that it has two anti-scam investigations in progress, three ongoing spam investigations, and 20 court-enforceable undertakings in place.

“We continue to take the fight to scammers to disrupt their activities and protect Australians,” reads the update. ACMA says its two key compliance priorities are combatting SMS scams and enforcing e-marketing unsubscribe rules.

“ACMA received more than 6,200 complaints from consumers about alleged breaches of telemarketing and spam laws in this quarter,” adds the update. “The most common complaints (excluding scams) were about the retail, building and maintenance, and solar sectors.”

ACMA’s key outcomes in the last quarter include;

  • Securing an AUD302,000 penalty against Outdoor Supacentre (trading as 4WD Supacentre) for sending commercial messages without consent;
  • Securing over AUD12.7 million in penalties over the last 18 months against businesses that sent out unlawful spam;
  • Expanding the SMS Sender ID Registry pilot by adding new alpha tags, which helps prevent business message headers in SMS from being impersonated by scammers;
  • Issuing 1,173 compliance alerts to businesses so they could address potential spam and telemarketing compliance issues (bringing the total to 3,601 in the financial year to date); and
  • Issuing consumer alerts about the re-emergence of the ‘Hi mum scam’, government ‘cost of living’ impersonation scams, and Do Not Call Register scams.

ACMA says it is seeing an increase in businesses that may not comply with Australia’s spam laws because they do not have adequate unsubscribe processes for automated SMS and email ‘welcome journeys’.

A welcome journey is a series of automated messages sent to new customers to welcome them to the business over a few days or weeks. They include advertising and often offer discounts.

Some customers have tried to unsubscribe after receiving the first few welcome journey messages but have continued to receive the complete series of messages. This is because the unsubscribe process does not work until the full, automated welcome journey has been completed. ACMA says these practices place these businesses in potential breach of their unsubscribe obligations under the Spam Act 2003.