Government calls for no-call register renewal

But consumer advocacy group wants permanent listings

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has called for renewals for the first listings on the Do Not Call register which will expire in May.

The register was launched in July 2006 under the Howard Government to allow consumers to remove themselves from telemarketer call lists, excluding political parties, charities and religious groups.

Listings on the register expire after three years. The Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), which has dubbed the registration requirement “a loophole”, has called for permanent listings.

ACCAN chief, Allan Asher, said it is a “nonsensical” requirement that “puts Australia behind international best practice.

The group cited statistics from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that a quarter of Do Not Call Register participants were aware of the renewal requirement.

ACMA chair, Chris Chapman, said numbers will be dropped off the list if they are not renewed within three years.

Several organisations have been slapped with fines and warnings for contacting some of the 4 million numbers registered on the list. GoTalk and the ACMA are entering legal proceedings over allegations the telco contacted more than 40,000 telephone numbers on the registry.

Dodo Australia was fined $147,400 — the largest in the history of the Act — in 2008 after its offshore call centres rang 67 de-listed Australian phone numbers.

Westpac received a formal warning for similar offences early last year and home insulators were threatened with $2200 fines if they added to the 400 complaints attributed to the industry by the ACMA last month.

“The best way to protect yourself from the days when you’d sit down to dinner and the telemarketing calls would start is to re-register your numbers now,” Chapman said.

The ACMA has also issued an alert about a viral email which warns mobile numbers will be released to telemarketers and associated mobile charges.

“While the email refers to the Australian Do Not Call Register website, it appears to have originated in North America a number of years ago and has been intermittently circulating since that time,” ACMA warns on its website. “The reference to consumers being 'charged' arises from the different charging regime for mobile calls in the USA, where often charges are incurred by mobile phone users for calls they receive. This charging regime does not apply in Australia.”

A previous version of the email did the rounds in March and April 2009. The ACMA recommends recipients of the email delete it and not forward it on to other email users.

Consumers can list their Australian fixed line and mobile numbers on the Do Not Call Register, provided the numbers are used primarily for private or domestic purposes, at or by phoning 1300 792 958.

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