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Fact sheet

New and revised Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules

Important Notice: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has released new and revised Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules that will affect all telemarketers, including telemarketers making calls exempt from the National Do Not Call List (DNCL). For any telemarketer making exempt calls, it is important to understand the new and revised rules that will come into effect when the National DNCL is launched. The National DNCL should be launched by September 30, 2008.

The CRTC has been authorized to establish a National DNCL. The process to select a National DNCL operator began in July 2007; and on December 21, 2007, Bell Canada was awarded a five-year contract to implement and operate the National DNCL.  The CRTC expects the National DNCL to be launched by September 30, 2008.

The National DNCL operator will be responsible for registering telephone numbers, providing telemarketers with up-to-date versions of the list, and receiving consumer complaints about telemarketing calls.  A third party Complaints and Investigation delegate will be responsible for investigating complaints.  The CRTC will be responsible for determining if an administrative monetary penalty will be imposed when an investigation has determined that a violation of the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules has occurred.  Although the National DNCL is currently not operating, the rules and regulations for it have been established. Please consult Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-48 for more information on the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules framework and the National DNCL.

All telemarketers and clients of telemarketers will have to register and pay applicable fees that may be charged by the Complaints Investigator delegate.  Please consult Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-6 for more information.

What can I do until the National DNCL is launched?

  1. As a first step, call the telemarketers directly and ask to be removed from their fax lists or tell them you want to be placed on their "do not call" lists when they contact you by telephone. Most problems will be resolved at this point.
  2. If you are unable to contact the telemarketing company or if you continue to receive telephone calls/faxes, contact your telephone company for assistance.
  3. If you aren't able to reach the telemarketer or have yourself removed from a fax/calling list and if the telephone company has been unable to assist you, contact the CRTC and we will pursue the matter with the telephone company on your behalf.
  4. In addition, you can register to have your telephone number(s) removed from marketing lists by mailing your request to the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), P.O. Box 706, Don Mills, Ontario M3C 2T6, or faxing it to 416-441-4062 or by completing the registration form at www.the-cma.org. Not all telemarketers are members of the CMA so this will not eliminate all unsolicited telemarketing calls. Make sure you indicate your first and last names as well as your complete address and all telephone numbers, including any Ident-A-Call numbers. This free service is valid for three years and applies to telemarketing calls received by mail, telephone and fax.
  5. You might also wish to consult the front pages of your local telephone directory under Privacy Issues to see what you can do to have your name removed from any directories made available by your local telephone company to publishers of independent paper and electronic directories, including the Canada 411 Internet directory. You might also want to contact your local telephone company directly to be removed from its telemarketing lists.

Telephone companies and the CRTC will be able to assist you most effectively if you remember to do the following:

  • Keep the faxes you receive;
  • Note the date and time of the phone call and, if it is available, any number that appears via call display; and
  • Write down the date, time, full name of the person you speak to at the telemarketing company or the telephone company, along with a summary of your conversation.

What is telemarketing?

Telemarketing refers to the use of telecommunications facilities to make unsolicited telephone calls or to send unsolicited faxes to consumers for the purpose of solicitation. Solicitation is defined as the selling or promoting of a product or service, or the soliciting of money or money's worth, whether directly or indirectly and whether on behalf of another party.  This includes calls made for donations by or on behalf of charities.

What is a "dead air" call?

Consumers may also receive a telephone call where no one is on the other end. These calls are often the result of something called "predictive dialing". Some telemarketing organizations use automatic, or predictive dialers to place telephone calls or send faxes. A "dead air" or "hang up" call will occur if a telemarketing representative is not available when the call is answered by the consumer. Generally, companies allow sufficient time between calls for a representative to be available; however, if the telemarketing representative is on another line longer than expected, the result is "dead air".  These calls are also referred to as abandoned calls.

What are the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules?

The Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules includes rules and restrictions for telemarketing, the use of Automatic Dialing-Announcing Devices (ADADs) and the National DNCL rules. 

Do the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules apply to all telemarketers?

The Telemarketing and Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device (ADAD) Rules apply to all telemarketers including those making calls exempt from the National DNCL Rules, with the exception of telemarketers using voice mail broadcast (where a solicitation message is left directly in your voice mailbox).  

The National DNCL Rules do not apply to certain types of unsolicited calls such as calls made by or on behalf of any of the following organizations:

  • registered charities;
  • political parties;
  • nomination contestants, leadership contestants or candidates of a political party;
  • opinion polling firms or market research firms conducting surveys when the call does not involve the sale of a product or service;
  • general circulation newspapers calling for the purpose of selling a subscription;
  • to consumer who has an existing business relationship with the organization; and
  • to business consumers.

Some of the Telemarketing Rules differ, depending on whether the telemarketing call is by telephone or fax. As a minimum, all telemarketers and clients of telemarketers are required to keep their own do not call lists, even if the calls they make are exempt from the National DNCL requirements. Telemarketers and clients of telemarketers must identify who they are and provide consumers with a fax or telephone number where the consumers can speak to a responsible person about the telemarketing call.

The Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules do not apply to calls made for the purpose of opinion polling, market research, surveys or calls to collect overdue accounts.  These types of calls are not considered solicitation for money or money's worth.

What are the consequences if telemarketers do not follow the rules?

Once the National DNCL is launched the CRTC may, if it finds that a telemarketer has not followed the rules, issue a notice of violation and impose monetary penalties for each violation of up to $1,500 for individuals and up to $15,000 for corporations.

What opportunity will a telemarketer have to show that it should not be liable for a monetary penalty?

Telemarketers will be able to make representations to the CRTC to provide a due diligence defence; demonstrating for example that a telemarketing call resulted from an error and that as part of its routine business practices, it has established, and implemented policies and procedures to comply with the rules.  A telemarketer may also make representations using common law defences. For more information on due diligence and other defences please consult Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-48.

Current Telemarketing Rules:
The new and revised Telemarketing Rules are highlighted below.  For your convenience the following has been summarized and written in plain language.  Please consult Telecom Decision CRTC 2007-48 for a complete list of the rules and for the official wording of the rules.

Faxes: 

  • Fax telemarketing calls are restricted to weekdays (Monday to Friday) between 9:00 AM and 9:30 PM and weekends (Saturday and Sunday) between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM.  Restrictions hours refer to the time zone of the customer receiving the fax telemarketing calls.
  • The following information must be provided on top of the first page in font size 12 or larger.
    • The name of the telemarketer whether it is sending the fax on its own behalf or on behalf of a client of the telemarketer.
    • The name of the telemarketer's client where applicable.
    • The originating date and time of the fax.
    • A local or toll-free number voice and fax number allowing the customer access to an employee or other representative of the telemarketer, and where applicable, the client of the telemarketer, for the purpose of asking questions or making a do not call request.
    • The name and address of an employee or other representative of the telemarketer, or client where applicable, to whom the consumer can write.
  • For any telephone numbers provided to the consumer to call
    • The telephone call shall be answered either by a live operator or a voicemail system to take messages for the consumer.
    • The voicemail must inform consumers that their call will be returned within three (3) business days.
    • The telemarketer or the client of the telemarketer must return consumer's call within three (3) business days.
  • The fax telemarketing call must display the originating calling number or an alternate number where the call originator can be reached (except where the number display is unavailable for technical reasons).
  • Sequential dialing is prohibited.
  • Fax telemarketing calls are not permitted to any emergency line or healthcare facility.
  • DNCLs are to be maintained by the telemarketer on its own behalf or on behalf of a client of a telemarketer and remain active for three (3) years effective within thirty-one (31) days from the date of the consumer's do not call request.

Telephone Calls:

  • Calling hours are restricted to weekdays (Monday to Friday) between 9:00 AM and 9:30 PM and weekends (Saturday and Sunday) between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM.  Restrictions hours refer to the time zone of the customer receiving the telephone calls.
  • At the beginning of a call a telemarketer
    • Must identify the name or fictitious name of the individual placing the call.
    • Must identify the name of the telemarketer whether calling on its own behalf or on behalf of a client of the telemarketer.
    • The telemarketer must provide the purpose of the call (if the call is exempt from the National DNCL Rules).
  • Upon request a telemarketer must
    • provide a local or toll-free number allowing the customer access to speak to an employee or other representative of the telemarketer and where applicable, its client;
    • provide the name and address of an employee or other representative of the telemarketer and where applicable, its client, to whom the consumer can write.
  • For any telephone numbers provided to a consumer
    • The telephone call shall be answered either by a live operator or a voicemail system to take messages for the consumer. The voicemail must inform consumers that their call will be returned within three (3) business days.
    • The telemarketer or the client of the telemarketer must return consumer's call within three (3) business days.
  • Telemarketers must display the originating calling number or an alternate number where the call originator can be reached (except where the number display is unavailable for technical reasons).
  • Sequential dialing is prohibited.
  • Random dialing and calls to non-published numbers are permitted, except to numbers that are registered on the National DNCL; are emergency lines; and are associated with healthcare facilities.
  • DNCLs are to be maintained by the telemarketer on its own behalf or on behalf of a client of a telemarketer and remain active for three (3) years effective within thirty-one (31) days from the date of the consumer's do not call request.
  • A consumer's request not to be called that is made during the telemarketing call shall be processed at that time. The consumer shall not be asked to call elsewhere to make their request.
  • A telemarketer using a predictive dialing device to initiate a call shall not exceed, in any calendar month, a five (5) percent abandonment rate. The telemarketer and or its client shall maintain records of actual abandonment rates for a period of three (3) years from the date each monthly record is created.

Automatic Dialing and Announcing Devices (ADADs):

ADADs are equipment that store and dial telephone numbers automatically. They may be used alone or with other devices to deliver a pre-recorded or synthesized voice message to the telephone number called.

ADADs used for the purpose of solicitation are prohibited.  This prohibition includes telemarketing via an ADAD that is initiated by or on behalf of a charity, for the purpose of requesting a consumer to hold until a telemarketer is available, for activities such as radio station promotions, or for referring consumers to 900 or 976 service numbers.

ADADs are permitted when there is no attempt to sell, such as:

Unsolicited telecommunications made via an ADAD for public service reasons, including telecommunications made for emergency and administration purposes by police and fire departments, schools, hospitals, or for calls to schedule appointments.

A person using an ADAD to make permitted telecommunications, shall comply with the following conditions:

  • Calling hours are restricted to weekdays (Monday to Friday)  from 9:00 AM to   9.30 PM and 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on weekends (Saturday and Sunday); the hours refer to those of the person receiving the telecommunication. These hours do not apply to emergency situation announcements.
  • The ADAD call shall begin with a clear message identifying the person on whose behalf the call is made.  This identification message shall include a mailing address and a local or toll-free telecommunications number at which a representative of the originator of the message can be reached.  In the event that the actual message relayed exceeds sixty (60) seconds, the identification message shall be repeated at the end of the telecommunication.
  • ADAD calls shall display the originating telecommunications number or an alternate telecommunications number where the call originator can be reached (except where the number display is unavailable for technical reasons).
  • Sequential dialing is prohibited.
  • Random dialing can be used to non-published telecommunications numbers, except to emergency lines and healthcare facilities.
  • Persons initiating ADAD calls shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure that their equipment disconnects within ten (10) seconds of the person receiving the call hanging up.

Date Modified: 2008-02-21

 
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