Spam and telemarketing

On this page

  • What is spam, how to stop it and where to lodge a complaint
  • What you can do to stop receiving telemarketing calls
  • What telemarketing calls are allowed

About spam

Spam is an unwanted commercial junk mail message, often sent out to many people at the same time by email or text message. Spam may advertise or offer you goods, services, land, or business and investment opportunities.

Don’t reply to spam

Many spam messages ask you to reply to see if your email address is active. If you respond, this could lead to more spam being sent to you. If you’re unsure about a message, the best thing to do is delete it.

How can I stop spam?

You should turn on the ‘junk’ or ‘spam’ preferences in your email account. You could also think about installing a spam filtering service with your internet connection. If you find spam email still reaches your main inbox, often you can tell your email provider that a particular message is spam.

What law applies to spam?

If you’re having a problem with a spammer based in Australia, it’s possible they’re breaking laws under the Spam Act 2003 (Spam Act), which the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) manages.

To make a complaint about spam, visit

The Privacy Act 1988 does not apply to direct marketing covered by the Spam Act (for more information see Direct Marketing).

Exceptions to the Spam Act

There are some junk mail messages that are exempt from the Spam Act, such as purely factual messages and messages from faxes, internet pop-ups or voice telemarketing.

Electronic messages are also allowed from:

  • government bodies
  • registered political parties
  • registered charities
  • educational institutions (sent to current and past students and their households)

About telemarketing

To stop calls from a telemarketer, you can put your details on the Australian Government’s Do Not Call Register, which Australian Communications and Media Authority manages.

Telemarketers must not make calls to numbers listed on the register, unless you are an existing customer. However, some organisations are still allowed to make telemarketing calls. These include:

  • registered charities
  • market research organisations conducting research for non-commercial purposes
  • political parties
  • educational institutions

If you receive a call that you believe is a scam involving financial products and services including cold calling, phone investment scams and illegal investment schemes, contact the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which may investigate.

To make a complaint about spam, visit