Avoid sending spam

Avoid sending spam

If you send or have someone else send your marketing emails or messages, you need to know about spam laws.

How to comply

If you plan to send marketing messages or emails, you must first have consent from the person who will receive them. Even if someone else is sending out your marketing messages for you, you must still have consent from each person who will receive your messages.

After you get consent, you must ensure your message:

  • Identifies you as the sender
  • Contains your contact details
  • Makes it easy to unsubscribe

Get consent

There are two types of consent:

  1. Express
  2. Inferred

Express consent

A person who gives express consent knows and accepts that they will receive marketing emails or messages from you. This is best practice when it comes to consent.

People can give express consent by one of the following:

  • Filling in a form
  • Ticking a box on a website
  • Over the phone
  • Face to face

You cannot send an electronic message to ask for consent, because this is a marketing message. Keep a record when a person gives express consent, including who gave the consent, when and how.

It’s up to you to prove that you have a person’s consent.

Inferred consent

In some circumstances, you may infer that you have consent to send marketing messages if the recipient has knowingly and directly given their address and it is reasonable to believe they would expect to receive marketing from your business.

This is usually when a person has a provable, ongoing relationship with your business, and the marketing is directly related to that relationship.

For example, if someone has subscribed to a service, has an account or is a member, and the marketing is directly relevant to the relationship – such as a person’s savings bank telling them about another savings account with higher interest. It would not cover the bank trying to sell them insurance products.

It does not cover sending messages after someone has just bought something from your business.

Inferred consent is not as reliable as getting someone’s express consent.

Know your responsibilities for email lists

Take care when you buy or use a marketing list. You are still responsible for making sure you have consent for any addresses you use.

Identify yourself as the sender

In your message, you must:

  • Accurately identify your name or business name
  • Include correct contact details for you or your business

If someone else sends messages on your behalf, the message must still identify you as the business that authorised the message. Use the correct legal name of your business, or your name.

This information must remain correct for at least 30 days after you send the message.

Make it easy to unsubscribe

You need to make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your electronic mailing lists. Every commercial message must contain an ‘unsubscribe’ option that:

  • Presents unsubscribe instructions clearly
  • Honours a request to unsubscribe within 5 working days
  • Does not require the payment of a fee
  • Does not cost more than the usual amount for using the address (such as a standard text charge)
  • Is functional for at least 30 days after you sent the message
  • Does not require the person to give extra personal information or log in to, or create, an account to unsubscribe from marketing messages.

Tip: Remember that if you are using an alphanumeric message header in SMS, these are generally not capable of receiving return messages.

Unsubscribe examples that are clearly worded


To stop receiving messages from us, simply reply to this email with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line.
If you no longer wish to receive these messages, please click the ‘unsubscribe’ button below.


Reply STOP
Unsub: (1800-number)

Other actions that may break the spam rules

You cannot:

  • Use or supply a list that has been created with address-harvesting software
  • Use or supply address-harvesting software

It is also against the spam rules to:

  • Help, guide or work with another person to break the spam rules
  • Encourage another person to break the spam rules
  • Be directly or indirectly, knowingly concerned with breaking the spam rules

If a business breaks the rules, law enforcer can take enforcement action.

Ask for or provide information

If you or someone else breaks the spam rules, you can tell us. If you do break the spam rules, telling us may help to fix the issue quickly. We review all cases individually, but it may be resolved without further action.

We value all information because it helps identify trends and spot serious or ongoing issues.

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