Senator Billson says cease and desist to telemarketers

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Senator Billson says cease and desist to telemarketers

Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Bruce Billson is urging telemarketing and research groups to desist from making nuisance calls to Australians registered on the Do Not Call Register.

The Do Not Call Register, was launched by the previous government in 2007, in response to public frustration about an increasing number of unwanted telemarketing calls.

While the majority of marketing companies appear to be making genuine efforts to comply with their obligations under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, in recent weeks senator Bilson’s office has received several public complaints about unsolicited calls.

Some involve salespeople calling on behalf of large corporations and misusing the ‘inferred consent’ exemption with established customers, others are individuals claiming to be exempt because they are conducting social research.

“I have also received complaints from people with silent numbers, who are registered on the Do Not Call Register, but who continue to be pestered by annoying, unsolicited calls. The use of random number generation systems means that silent numbers are not immune from harassment. I’ve heard of at least one major banking corporation that uses telemarketers to call its loan holders repeatedly to get them to take out unwanted mortgage insurance,” he said.

While there are public interest related exemptions, it is generally illegal for telemarketers to make unsolicited calls to numbers, including fixed lines and mobiles that are on the Do Not Call Register.

Penalties for breaches under the Do Not Call Register Act range from $220 to $110,000, while penalties for certain cases that go before the court can be up to $1.1 million.

“The Do Not Call Register is set for review in 2009 and I would urge new Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to fully support it, to help ensure it reaches its full potential as a safeguard against nuisance calls,” he said. “I would also call on non-compliant telemarketers to respect the wishes of people who clearly do not want to receive their calls. There is a public expectation that persistent rogue operators are strongly dealt with under the provisions of the act.”

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