Commonwealth Bank Fined For Spamming Its Customers With Emails

The Commonwealth Bank has paid the largest fine imposed by the communications regulator for spamming customers with 65 million emails and making it difficult to unsubscribe.

A $3.55 million fine was imposed on the bank for breaching spam laws under the Spam Act which came into effect in April 2021 which required marketers to allow users to unsubscribe from emails without needing to log in.

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) warned the Commonwealth Bank several times to change its practices but failed to do so.

More than 61 million of the emails sent unlawfully required customers to log in to unsubscribe from emails.

Most of the breaches occurred in November 2021 after the bank updated its electronic banking terms and conditions.

It took out language it had been using in communications to exempt itself from the Spam Act changes while in the process of creating a direct unsubscribe link.

In 13 messages templates which were sent to four million customers, the unsubscribe link was broken.

“The scale and duration of the breaches by the CBA is alarming, especially when the ACMA gave it early warnings it might have some issues and the steps it took were ineffective,” ACMA’s chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

“The failure to fix the issues shows a complete disregard for the spam rules and the rights of its customers.”

The Commonwealth Bank accepted the findings and apologised for its error.

“Since reporting this matter to ACMA, we’ve fixed the issues that were the subject of ACMA’s investigation, and strengthened our systems, processes and controls to support ongoing compliance,” executive marketing and corporate affairs Monique Macleod said.

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