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Telstra warned for breaching consumer protection laws




Australia’s media watchdog has hit Telstra with another breach, although the telecommunications giant has avoided a penalty for breaking consumer protection rules.

Instead they’ve copped a formal warning for not giving notice to more than 5400 customers before limiting their services.

Providers must give at least five working days’ notice before restricting or suspending a customer’s service if they haven’t paid bills per federal law.

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It’s not Telstra’s only run-in with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in recent times.

An investigation wrapped up late last year finding they’d breached rules on credit management for dozens of customers on financial hardship plans.

ACMA noted Telstra’s actions between May and July 2022 left those customers unable to make calls except to emergency services or Telstra, while some couldn’t even receive calls except from those two parties.

“With the current cost of living pressures, many Australians are doing it tough. By limiting peoples’ services without notice Telstra likely caused these people significant additional stress,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

“Phone and internet connections are essential for our everyday lives. We use them for work, Education, banking, Health services and social connection.”

ACMA said protecting consumers in financial hardship was one of their priorities, adding they’d soon release a report on the topic including research on the customer experience.

“Telcos are obliged to help people facing financial hardship and there are a range of options available to help customers manage their bills,” O’Loughlin said.