Call Centers Feel the Sting of Enforcement Action Under the National Do Not Call List

No one likes unsolicited telephone calls. In response to the nuisance of such calls the Government has set up a National Do No Call list and a regulatory regime managed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC). The regime operates under the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.

That system is sometimes criticized but in fact it can work. It works if people register under the National Do No Call list and then file complaints when that registration is not respected under the law. Telemarketers are required by law to subscribe to the National Do No Call list and are obligated to download updates and to ensure numbers on the list are not called.

Of course, individuals should appreciate that registration does not prohibit all calls and there are exceptions for registered charities, newspapers and political parties and candidates.

As example of how the system works occurred recently when, on March 10, 2016, the CRTC issued Notices of Violation to three Canadian-based companies and two Indian-based call centres alleging that the five companies failed to respect the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.

The Notices of Violation issued to the two India-based call centres were sent, in an example of international collaboration in this case, to the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation for service on the two Indian companies.

The CRTC took this action after an investigation resulting from complaints that Canadians had filed.

The telemarketers had made calls to phone numbers registered on the National Do Not Call List. It was alleged that the callers falsely identified themselves as representatives of the Government of Canada, U.S. Homeland Security or Microsoft. It was alleged that the callers were seeking to sell anti-virus software and further it is alleged that in some calls the caller sought to obtain remote access to the owner’s computer “under the pretext of removing viruses and other malicious software”.

In this case penalties totaling $643,500 were imposed by the CRTC. The parties served will have 30 days to pay the penalty or file representations with the CRTC.

Marketing businesses should remain aware of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules and take steps to ensure that their marketing campaigns remain in compliance with that program.