The Do Not Call Register was set up in 2007 to protect consumers from an increasing number of unsolicited telemarketing calls. If you are planning on telemarketing or using a telemarketing service for your business, it is important to make sure that you comply with your obligations, and you are supervising their activities. You should also ensure that any lists purchased do not include numbers on the Do Not Call list.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) late last year received complaints in regards to the solar industry, as several companies were making unsolicited phone calls to consumers that were on the Do Not Call Register. This prompted ACMA to look specifically into the solar industry. ACMA contacted businesses in this industry to educate and make clear their responsibilities. They then issued two formal warnings to Green Engineering (Vic) Pty Ltd and RDBD Infotech Private Limited (known as Smart Connections), who provided the telemarketing services.
How Can I be Sure That my Business is Not Calling Numbers On the Register?
The first action that businesses should take is to “wash” their contact list against the existing Do Not Call Register. Some businesses are exempt from this and may call a number on the Do Not Call Register if they are making non-commercial calls. If you’re unsure as to whether your business may be in this category, you should seek legal advice.
In some cases, individual numbers may receive calls of a commercial nature if they have consented. Express consent is where the individual expressly agrees to receive telemarking or similar calls. Inferred consent is where, for example, you make a call in relation to a business or service and they call you back on the number provided to respond to your enquiry – that business would not necessarily breach the Do Not Call Register. After this point, if the individual states that they no longer wish to receive calls, then consent is withdrawn.
Telemarketing businesses use the Telemarketer Access Portal to undertake the washing of numbers, e.g. to check them against the register. There are fees payable to ACMA for undertaking this process.
Telemarketers and other businesses making commercial calls are required to meet certain standards, including only making calls at certain times and complying with a particular format. These are set out in the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth).
For example, there are set times that telemarketing calls can be made:
- Weekdays Before 9.00 am or after 8.00 pm;
- Saturdays and Sundays Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm;
- Anytime on national public holidays.
There are also requirements around identifying the business the person is calling from, why the person is calling and the origins of the number. The caller must end the call at the request of the individual, and the call number must be identifiable.
There are several associated penalties if a telemarketer or the business employing them does not meet these standards or requirements under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (Cth). Upon receiving a complaint, ACMA will work with the business through a warning process. If this doesn’t resolve the situation, ACMA may investigate the matter and if they find any contraventions, they have the authority to issue warnings right up to court proceedings.
For example, ACMA may issue an infringement notice with penalties up to $220,000 (each day that the contravention took place). If the business has contravened the industry standards rather than the Do Not Call Register Act 1996, the civil penalties are higher under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth).
- Any business making telemarketing calls or using telemarketing services should be aware of the Do Not Call Register and the associated industry standards.
- Implement the correct data cleaning processes and if you are using a telemarketing company, seek assurances from your telemarketers that they have done so.
- Have protocols about how calls are undertaken to ensure compliance with industry standards and have a complaints procedure in place.
If you have questions or concerns about your compliance with the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (Cth), ask us on 1300 544 755.