The era of errant telemarketing practices is coming to an end as the Do-Not-Call registry takes effect from 2 January next year onwards.
According to Leong Keng Thai, chairman of PDPC, the laws were put in place to protect consumers. At the same time it will also help marketers to be more "targeted" in their marketing, he said, at a media briefing yesterday.
"With the setting up of the DNC Registry, organisations can now focus more efficiently on consumers who are interested to receive information on products and services," he added.
What is affected:
The law will affect all telemarketing messages sent through voice calls, text messages and faxes - those that offer, advertise or promote goods or services for commercial purposes.
These exclude charitable or religious purposes, market survey or research, service calls (such as a reminder for an appointment) or business to business calls.
According to Leong, if a company is using these telemarketing means for CSR purposes, this will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, based on the intent of the marketing.
The DNC will currently impact only telephone numbers and apps such as What'sApp, which work based on telephone numbers. Services via email such as iMessaging will not be affected. There are currently no plans to extend the laws to email marketing, said Leong.
For companies - How to get started:
The onus will be put on brands or companies to check the database once the grace period is over on 2 January next year, whether they are based in Singapore or overseas.
To check the numbers, organisations can log on to www.dnc.gov.sg to create their accounts with the DNC registry. Several types of accounts are available. Also, companies can continue to send telemarketing messages to consumers who have previously registered with the DNC if there is proof of the consumers' prior consent. Freelancers must also set up an account.
Each organisation with an account with the DNC will have 500 initial credits to check these numbers. Each credit allows the organisation to check one number and subsequent credits can be bought by brands if they run out of the 500 free credits.
Upon checking that the numbers submitted by the organisations are allowed for telemarketing purposes, the registry will return the numbers to the organisations. These numbers can be used for telemarketing over a period of 30 days. Once the validity period expires, they will have to re-check the numbers with the registry.
In anticipation of organisations needing more time to adjust to the checking requirement, PDPC will allow the checked numbers to be used for up to 60 days from 2 January to 1 July 2014.
Consumers can make an early registration of their numbers from 2 December 2013 onwards. However, they may still have to put up with the calls for a period of 30 to 60 days while the registration takes effect. Past the grace period, consumers can place a complaint to the Personal Data Protection Commission.
Meanwhile, if they have given prior consent to a company, despite signing up for DNC, they will still be receiving updates and calls on marketing products of that particular institution. This prior consent overwrites the DNC application a consumer might have made, unless he or she manually updates the company of his intent to be put on the DNC list.
The Act took effect from January this year. Going forward, a fine of up to SG$1 million can be imposed on firms that fail to comply.
Full guidelines here.