The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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DIA issues $30,000 penalty for unsolicited messages

21 December 2020

Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has issued a penalty of NZ$30,000 to Greenback Ecommerce Limited (trading as The Safety Warehouse) for breaching the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 (the Act).

The Safety Warehouse was investigated after DIA received complaints from the public about receiving unsolicited commercial SMS text messages. These messages took advantage of the second COVID-19 outbreak to sell face masks and failed to provide an unsubscribe facility.

DIA executed a search warrant on The Safety Warehouse’s mobile network service provider and identified over 4,800 unsolicited commercial SMS text messages sent on 12 August 2020. The text messages were sent to over 4,700 unique mobile numbers with over 80 recipients receiving multiple texts.

This is not the first time enforcement actions have been taken against The Safety Warehouse. Early this year DIA issued the company with a formal warning for sending unsolicited commercial messages, along with information on how to achieve compliance under the Act. The Safety Warehouse then further breached the Act in August and was issued a NZ$300 civil infringement notice.

Lisa Wilkin-Krug, Manager of Digital Messaging and Systems at DIA, hopes that this enforcement outcome encourages businesses to ensure their electronic marketing complies with the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act. “It is vital to obtain the recipient’s consent prior to sending a commercial electronic message and to provide a functional unsubscribe facility within the message. Failure to do so can result in enforcement action by DIA”.

How can I find out about complying with the Act?

How do I report a spam message?

Notes to editor:
Under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, an unsolicited commercial electronic message refers to an electronic message that markets or promotes goods or services which is sent to a person without consent.
The Department of Internal Affairs regulates the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 by investigating complaints about spam. As well as taking enforcement action against those who breach the Act, the Department facilitates international and local industry/agency liaison, monitors emerging technologies, and advises public and private agencies on spam matters.