Kalkine companies fined AU$350,000 for 7,200 spam calls and 2,774 texts

Research firm hit with fines by ACMA for getting spammy on various mediums.

Angry bearded businessman annoyed with phone call in office

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Equities research firm Kalkine and its Kalkine Media arm have been fined a total of AU$350,000 for breaching Australia's spam laws.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) hailed its enforcement action as the first time it has focused on "unlawful marketing practices in the financial services sector".

ACMA found that between January and September 2020, Kalkine made over 7,200 calls to 5,400 phone numbers on the nation's Do Not Call Register, while Kalkine Media sent 2,774 spam texts to 2,700 people during the same time frame.

"This unlawful marketing was an intrusion on the privacy of thousands of Australians," ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin said.

"Our investigations showed both businesses had poor compliance systems and no compliance culture to prevent the breaches."

ACMA said the companies failed to take action after being warned, and on top of the fine, need to have independent reviews of their systems, processes, and procedures completed.

"We are focussing our efforts on the financial services sector because of the potential for broader financial harms and impacts involved," O'Loughlin added.

"Unwanted calls and spam have significant social and economic impacts. They can lead to serious harm for people in vulnerable circumstances who may agree to spend money on products and services they don't want or need."

On Tuesday, Telstra said it is now blocking 13 million spam calls each month under its Cleaner Pipes program, a doubling of its numbers from February.

Last year, the company kicked off Cleaner Pipes with DNS filtering to fight against botnets, trojans, and other types of malware, and extended to blocking phishing text messages purporting to be from myGov or Centrelink before they hit the phones of customers.

"The fact that scammers are always finding new tactics means that no technology platform will ever stop scam calls entirely and we're working hard to continue evolving our algorithms and detection methods to block existing and future scamming tactics," Telstra APAC CISO Narelle Device said.

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