Unsolicited contacts from businesses are on the rise and Australians say they want more control over the communications they receive.

A survey by the Australian Communications and Media Authority found that 98% of respondents had received unsolicited contact in the previous six months, while just one in 10 felt they had control over how personal information are used to sell a product or promote something.

While 74% of respondents had asked a company to stop contacting them, nearly three in five were contacted again after unsubscribing, and 56% had difficulty unsubscribing.

An ACMA spokesperson said the data confirmed Australians expect privacy protections to be in place.

“Businesses must respect the choices consumers make and comply with spam and telemarketing laws,” the spokesperson said.

“It undermines trust in legitimate business practices and the use of Australian telecommunications services.”

Under anti-spam laws, marketing messages must include a working unsubscribe feature, and businesses must respond to unsubscribe requests within seven days.

More than half of respondents felt they rarely or never had control over their data used for marketing, with 72% wanting more control.

Some 86% had received a scam call in the past six months, while 40% said they received this type of call every week.

Of those who received unsolicited calls, 69% came from an unknown caller and 61% came from business or marketing, while 25 and 23% came from government agencies and political parties or candidates, respectively.

When respondents received an unsolicited call, 83% hung up, 81% checked the number and did not answer, but only 14% filed a complaint.

When the contact came by SMS, 93% of respondents simply did not answer, 84% blocked the number and 58% replied “STOP” to prevent further contact.

The ACMA spokesperson said $1.9 million was paid in infringement notices due to the organization’s strong stance on spam and compliance with telemarketing laws, with nearly 6000 compliance alerts issued during this period.

The authority has taken enforcement action against companies such as Optus, Woolworths and Kogan for violating spam and telemarketing laws.

“We will continue to work with businesses through our compliance and enforcement activities so that they understand their obligations, particularly in relation to obtaining and using consent to market to Australian consumers.”

Australian Associated Press