Sunday, 16 February 2014

Multiple organisations censured for flouting Do-Not-Call rule

1,500 valid complaints on unsolicited marketing following registry's launch
By Irene Tham, The Straits Times, 15 Feb 2014

SOME 1,500 valid complaints about unsolicited marketing have been made since the Do-Not-Call (DNC) Registry kicked in just over a month ago.

"We expect organisations to comply with the DNC provisions and we will not hesitate to take enforcement action against errant organisations," said PDPC chairman Leong Keng Thai yesterday during a media briefing.

The DNC Registry was set up to let consumers block unsolicited marketing calls, SMS messages or faxes by listing their numbers on the registry. In most cases, companies are now not allowed to market to any registered number without getting consent.

But after the registry's launch on Jan 2, around 580 organisations were still texting and calling numbers listed on it without getting permission.

Most of these organisations are from the private education and property sectors, but there were also complaints against banking and finance, retail, insurance and telecommunications companies.

Wanting to send a strong signal that the rules need to be taken seriously, the commission yesterday said it intends to prosecute one unnamed firm in court for sending messages to numbers on the registry despite being told to stop.

Two other companies also had their offences compounded for between $500 and $1,000, it added, while encouraging consumers to continue reporting rule-breakers.

Complaints relating to suspected unlicensed moneylending activities have also been received but these cases were referred to the police, said the commission.

More than 550,000 numbers are now on the registry, up from 400,000 on the day it launched.

The number of firms which have registered to check against the list has also tripled to 1,800.

Engineer Ngiam Shih Tung, who put his number on the registry late last year, said it has worked in blocking unwanted messaged from from local telemarketers. "But I still expect marketing messages from overseas, such as China, to continue," he added.

The commission said it has received "a handful" of complaints related to unwanted overseas SMSes in the past month. But it explained that such foreign telemarketing messages do not fall under its jurisdiction unless they represent companies here.

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