Unwanted communications

What can I do about unwanted communications?

If you are receiving unwanted communications, the options available to you differ depending on the type of communication you are receiving (for example, whether it is a phone call or a text message), and whether the call is legitimate or a scam.

Top five tips to avoid scammers. 1—Never give out personal information. 2—Double check contact details through independent source. 3—Don’t be tempted to click links. 4—Hang up, and call organisations back on a verified number. 5—Visit www.scamwatch.gov.au.

Frequently asked questions

What can I do to prevent scam phone calls?

It is important to protect your personal and financial details. Do not provide them to anyone who asks for that information unless you are completely certain about who is contacting you.

Keep these five quick tips in mind:

  1. Never give out your personal information or your bank details
  2. Double check contact details through an independent source, like a bill or through an online search
  3. Don't be tempted to click on links that have been sent to you out-of-the-blue
  4. Hang up and if needed, call the organisation back using a number on their website or in a public directory.
  5. Visit the Scamwatch website for further information about how to recognise, avoid and report scams. You can subscribe to the free Scamwatch Alert Service on the website.

You could also consider using an answering machine or other commercial call blocking device. These can be used to screen incoming calls to determine whether you wish to answer them or not, and many can block international callers or withheld numbers.

I think that I have been contacted by a scammer, what should I do?

If you've lost money or given personal information to a scammer, there are steps you can take straight away to limit the damage and protect yourself from further loss.

If you've sent money or shared your banking or credit card details, contact your bank immediately. They may be able to stop or reverse a transaction, or lock your account. If you have lost money or your identity has been stolen, contact the police. You could contact your communications service provider to have the number blocked, if it is known. Some scammers will 'spoof' the phone number used to make a call. Caller Line Identification (CLI) over-stamping or 'spoofing' is the practice of changing the phone number that appears on the call recipient's handset to be different to the number that made the call.

If you've given your personal information to a scammer, visit IDCARE, Australia and New Zealand's not-for-profit national identity and cyber support service. IDCARE can work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and support you through the process.

You can report scams to Scamwatch online. The information received by Scamwatch is used by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to keep Australians informed about scams, to monitor scam trends and find innovative ways to disrupt scams.

You can also report scams and instances of fraud to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) online. The ACORN is a national policing initiative of the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, which allows the public to securely report instances of cybercrime online. Once a report has been submitted, the ACORN will assess whether the report should be referred to law enforcement agencies for consideration and possible investigation.

How can I opt-out of receiving telemarketing calls?

The Do Not Call Register is a secure database on which individuals and organisations can register their Australian telephone, mobile and fax number free of charge to limit unsolicited telemarketing calls and faxes.

To register your number on the Do Not Call Register, visit the Do Not Call website or call 1300 792 958. Registration is free and may take up to 30 days to become fully effective.

Once a number is registered, it remains on the database indefinitely, unless the owner of the number requests it to be removed.

To find out more and to register, visit the Do Not Call Register website.

My number is on the Do Not Call Register, why am I still receiving telemarketing calls?

Even if your number is listed on the Do Not Call Register, an organisation may call you if it has consent to do so. Consent may be given expressly (such as ticking an opt-in box or not ticking an opt-out box on a form) or it may be inferred if there is an existing business relationship. You can withdraw your consent at any time by asking the organisation not to contact you again.

Some types of organisations are exempt from the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, including charities, political parties and research companies. These organisations can make telemarketing calls to numbers listed on the Register because they operate in the public interest. However, they still need to follow industry standards about how and when people can be contacted.

Unfortunately, having your number listed on the Do Not Call Register will not necessarily stop illegitimate scam communications.

I think there has been a breach of the Do Not Call Register—where can I report it?

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for the operation of the Do Not Call Register. If your number is registered and you think that there has been a breach, you can lodge a complaint with the ACMA through the Do Not Call website or by calling 1300 792 958.

What can I do about unwanted text messages and emails?

The Spam Act 2003 (Spam Act) regulates the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages, known as 'spam'.

Commercial electronic messages are messages that seek to offer, advertise, supply or promote goods, services, land or business/investment opportunities, and include messages sent by email, short message service (SMS), multimedia message service (MMS) or instant messaging.

Messages that contain purely factual information are not considered spam under the Spam Act.

The Spam Act has three general requirements for the legitimate transmission of commercial electronic messages which have an Australian link. The messages must:

  • be sent with the consent (express or inferred) of the recipient
  • contain a functional unsubscribe facility, and
  • include accurate sender information.

Some types of electronic messages are exempt or partially exempt from the requirements of the Spam Act. For example, commercial electronic messages sent by government bodies, registered political parties, registered charities and educational institutions are exempt from the consent and unsubscribe requirements. However, commercial electronic messages sent by these organisations must still provide accurate information identifying the sender.

I think there has been a breach of the Spam Act—where can I report it?

If you believe that there has been a breach of the Spam Act, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Communications and Media Authority online or by calling 1300 855 180.

What can I do if I am receiving harassing or life threatening communications?

The industry code for Handling of Life Threatening and Unwelcome Communications (the Code) establishes a set of common industry procedures for the handling of consumer complaints about communications that are life threatening, offensive, menacing or harassing. The Code can be found on the Communications Alliance website.

Under the Code, telephone service provider are required to outline options to resolve the problem. If you do not want to pursue the options identified by your telephone service provider, you can request that they conduct further investigations.

Useful links for further information