A telemarketing business has copped a $20,400 fine after the Australian Communications and Media Authority issued an infringement notice for making calls to numbers listed on the Do Not Call Register.
Zone Telecom Pty Ltd, a Melbourne-based telecommunications firm, was warned last year its marketing lists may have included numbers on the Do Not Call Register. However, ACMA says the business chose to accept this risk and continue with its telemarketing activities.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement breaches of the register carry tough penalties.
“Zone Telecom has paid a hefty price for its risky behaviour,” he said. “This case demonstrates yet again that all telemarketers – from new businesses to established operators – must be on full alert when it comes to their responsibilities under the Do Not Call Register Act.”
Chapman went on to say a business’s reputation can also come into question if it is found to have breached the privacy of members of the public.
“Businesses take a significant risk if they call telephone numbers on the register without a legal basis to do so,” he said. “The consequences of getting it wrong are serious – from potential penalties, such as this, to reputational damage, which ultimately can be even more financially damaging.”
Lyn Nicholson, general counsel at Holding Redlich, agrees.
“People value their privacy,” she told SmartCompany. “The Do Not Call Register is one more way people try to manage their privacy. And if you ignore that, as well as the fine, you’re likely to get reputational impacts.”
Nicholson says it can cost a business time and money to compare its contact lists with the Do Not Call Register. In addition, companies need to do this often to make sure their marketing lists are up-to-date.
“You need to do it with each campaign but it’s a small price to pay against a fine or reputational risk,” she said.
Nicholson says this specific case can be seen as a warning to businesses engaging in behaviour that breaches the Do Not Call Register Act.
“Individuals are more likely to complain to a regulator than ever before if they think you have invaded their privacy,” she said. “Maybe five years ago people would just hang up, but now they’re likely to Google who they complain to and do it.”
The register was introduced in 2007 with the aim of reducing the number of telemarketing calls in Australia.