Crackdown on marketing spam sees financial firms splintered

Several financial services companies have been arrested for illegally offering their products via spam calls, text messages and emails.

Three financial services companies have been arrested for offering their products via spam calls, texts and emails, in violation of telemarketing laws.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has taken action against Phoenix Securities, My Alfred and Pineapple Funding.

ACMA President Nerida O’Loughlin said the practice was widespread – and financial services companies were among the worst offenders.

“Australians can suffer significant economic harm when financial services companies break the rules,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“People in vulnerable situations are particularly at risk when they are unexpectedly offered what looks like easy money or quick loans. Stopping this type of illegal marketing is a priority for us.

The financial services industry is one of the most criticized areas for telemarketing, according to Ms O’Loughlin.

The enforcement actions taken by the ACMA require companies to undertake an independent review of their systems and compliance with anti-spam laws.

Additionally, Phoenix Securities paid a $26,640 fine after it discovered the company illegally sent more than 3,000 emails offering business loans without consent.

A software development company, My Alfred made 14 calls offering its automated trading system to numbers on the do not call registry.

Loan broker, Pineapple Funding sent out 175 texts offering pre-approvals and interest-free periods for business loans without recipient consent.

The three companies will also be required train staff on their compliance obligations and demonstrate that they are acting on recommendations from the review process.

In the 2020-21 fiscal year, the ACMA received 3,381 telemarketing complaints from financial services companies.

A subsequent crackdown reduced illegal practices by a third in the first half of 2021-2022.

Over the past 18 months, companies have paid nearly $900,000 in ACMA notices of violation for violating spam and telemarketing laws, many of which were financial services companies.

Businesses are not allowed to make calls to numbers on the do not call registry or send marketing emails and text messages without consent.

Financial services giant Chase Edwards was among five companies to receive a formal warning in July last year for breaking the rules.

The company called two numbers on the Do Not Call Registry offering free financial assessments.

Lastminuteloan.com.au also received a warning for sending unsolicited text messages, informing recipients that they had been approved for a $200 loan.

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