Finance company fined AU$34k for breaching Do Not Call Act

Premium Finance Services has paid AU$34,000 after employing a third-party call centre that made telemarketing calls to phone numbers listed on the DNC Register.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced that Premium Finance Services has been forced to pay a AU$34,000 infringement notice for contravening the Do Not Call Register Act.

An investigation by the ACMA found that a call centre engaged by Premium Finance Services had called several phone numbers listed on the Do Not Call Register, which constitutes a breach by the company engaging the third party.

"Some businesses may think having a contract with a call centre and relying on them to do the right thing is enough," said Richard Bean, who became acting ACMA chairman in February after Chris Chapman's 10-year tenure as chairman ended.

"It's not. If you use a call centre for telemarketing, you must make sure that the centre is complying with the Do Not Call Register Act."

Consumers are able to register so as not to receive unsolicited telemarketing calls on both their fixed-line and mobile services, with most telemarketing calls received then deemed to be illegal. Once a number is added to the Do Not Call Register, businesses must update their own lists within 30 days.

After investigating the matter, the ACMA can apply to the Federal Court to receive a pecuniary penalty order.

The federal government agency, which investigates telecommunications-related issues on behalf of consumers, last month also found Macquarie Telecom to be in contravention of both the Telecommunications Act and the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) code by failing to provide accurate customer data for more than five years.

The ACMA directed Macquarie Telecom to comply, and accepted a Federal Court-enforceable undertaking from the telco.

In November, it also directed SpinTel to comply with the IPND code after it was found to have published 426 silent line customers' phone numbers, names, and addresses in three Australian public phone directories between January 9, 2014, and February 3, 2015.

In December, the ACMA found Vaya and Live Connected to be non-compliant with the TCP Code by charging customers a AU$20 security deposit before providing services without carrying out individual credit assessments first, and in October it also directed six telcos -- AussieSim, Btel Communications, Datawave Internet, Golden IT, Hotnet, and MVoice -- to comply with the TCP Code after failing to lodge a statement of code compliance for the last two years.

The ACMA, along with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, is also assisting an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against 11 corporations trading as SoleNet and Sure Telecom, and their director James Harrison, due to unconscionable conduct in the supply of telecommunications services and undue harassment in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.