Australians want more control over their personal information

Unsolicited marketing emails and text messages are received by most Australians on an almost daily basis – and most people are unhappy about that and how those businesses accessed their details.

The communications watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), reveals in a new research paper that seven in 10 Australians want more control over the communications they receive, how their information is stored and by whom.

ACMA’s Unsolicited communications in Australia: Consumer experience research 2021 report found that in the six months leading up to the survey, 98 per cent of Australians had received some form of unsolicited communication from a business.

Read: Detect, trace and block scam calls

Just 10 per cent felt they had control over how their information was used by businesses for promotions, and around six in 10 respondents said they had not been asked for permission before communications commenced.

If you’re receiving unwanted marketing communications, ACMA says you should contact the business in question and request your details be taken off its marketing list.

But ACMA also found that when people did that, 56 per cent said the process was difficult and 59 per cent reported they still received communications after unsubscribing.

Scam calls were found to be the most common form of unwanted communication, with 86 per cent of Australians reporting they had received a scam call in the six months leading up to the survey. Four in 10 respondents told ACMA they were receiving the calls at least weekly.

Read: Are older people more likely to fall for COVID scams?

Most respondents who received unsolicited calls (82 per cent) said they were simply annoyed by them, but around 33 per cent said the calls were causing them to feel anxious, distressed and vulnerable.

In the past 18 months, businesses have paid just under $1.9 million in infringement notices to ACMA for breaking spam and telemarketing laws.

The report won’t be news to a lot of Australians. Another report, from anti-scam organisation IDCARE, showed Australians were among the top five nationalities most likely to fall for a scam.

In 2021, as the pandemic ravaged the country for a second year, Australians lost more than $211 million to scams. That was an 89 per cent increase on 2020 figures, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch service.

Read: Who is calling you from that number?

“Scammers are conning people out of more and more money, so it’s really important that everyone knows what to look out for and how to protect themselves,” says ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.

“Remember, you never know who you are dealing with online. Scammers often pretend to be from a well-known organisation, such as a bank or the government, and they will pretend to offer you something such as money or a benefit or claim that you are in trouble.”

Do you receive unwanted marketing communications regularly? Are you sure you can spot a scam? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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