Finance company fined for spam law breach

·2-min read

A finance company has been fined by the communications watchdog for breaching spamming laws more than three million times.

Latitude Finance Australia was forced to pay a $1.55 million fine to the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) due to mischaracterising commercial emails and texts to customers.

The authority found Latitude had sent messages that had been marked as "information only" messages and promoted products such as credit cards without giving customers the ability to unsubscribe from the messages.

The investigation into Latitude found the company sent more than three million emails and texts without giving customers the option to unsubscribe, while also sending messages to those who had already tried to unsubscribe.

The authority's chair Nerida O'Loughlin said companies needed to properly characterise messages sent to customers and respect choices whether they want to be received.

"Companies cannot promote their products and services to customers under the guise of simply providing them with factual information," she said.

"Customers must be able to withdraw their consent and stop receiving commercial messages."

Under spam laws, companies have five days to remove customers from mailing lists if they have chosen to unsubscribe.

Ms O'Loughlin said Latitude did not change its practices even after the company was alerted about the breaches.

"These rules have been in force since 2003, so there is simply no excuse for Latitude - or any other business - to not have compliant practices," she said.

"We will be actively monitoring Latitude's compliance and the commitments it has made to the ACMA."

Latitude has been required to appoint an independent consultant to review the compliance with spam laws, with the company also required to train staff and report to the authority.

In the past 18 months alone, the authority has been paid $5 million in fines stemming from breaches to spamming laws.