Cigno breaches consumer protection rules for pay-day loan spam

Pay-day loan provider Cigno Pty Ltd will undergo an independent review of its compliance with spam laws after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found it sent more than 1 million unlawful messages promoting short-term loans.

Authority Member Fiona Cameron said cracking down on illegal spam from financial services companies like Cigno was a compliance priority for the ACMA due to the potential for consumer harm.

“Unsolicited messages promoting short-term loans can lead to serious harm for people in vulnerable circumstances, who may agree to borrow money they can’t afford to pay back,” Ms Cameron said.

The ACMA’s investigation found Cigno contravened the Spam Act 2003 as it did not have consent to send email and text messages. Cigno also failed to action unsubscribe requests from consumers.

Under the Spam Act marketers must be able to provide adequate evidence of consent to send marketing messages. The third-party consent Cigno relied on was not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Act.

“Cigno should have been aware there was a compliance issue with its marketing given we have previously alerted it to consumer complaints,” Ms Cameron said

“We remind industry that you can’t outsource your compliance obligations. If you engage third parties for marketing purposes it is your responsibility to make sure you are complying with the law.”

In its a court-enforceable undertaking, Cigno committed to undergo an independent review of its compliance with spam laws, implement improvements from the review’s recommendations and report back to the ACMA. If Cigno does not comply the ACMA can pursue action in the Federal Court.

ACMA consumer research indicates 71 per cent of Australians are negatively impacted by unsolicited texts and emails, with just under a quarter feeling anxious, distressed or vulnerable.

Over the past 18 months businesses have paid $874,620 in ACMA-issued infringement notices for breaking spam and telemarketing laws. The ACMA has also accepted eight court-enforceable undertakings and issued seven formal warnings to businesses.

Enforcement action for breaches of Australia’s unsolicited communications laws can include formal warnings, infringement notices, court-enforceable undertakings and action in the Federal Court.

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