Telephone solicitation rules
On September 30, 2008, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) introduced the National Do Not Call List (DNCL), a service allowing Canadians to reduce the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls they receive. Since that date, consumers wishing to avoid receiving unwanted solicitation calls can register their telephone numbers (land, cell or fax) free of charge on the DNCL.
All real estate agencies and brokers who canvass using unverified telephone lists (cold calling) are subject to CRTC Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules. These rules prohibit the use of telecommunications for the purpose of telemarketing to consumers whose number is registered on the DNCL. Consumers whose number is not registered on the DNCL may continue to be solicited. Thus, when a consumer’s number is registered on the DNCL, a real estate agency or broker must obtain written prior consent from the consumer explicitly authorizing the agency or broker to contact him for telemarketing purposes.
In addition, real estate agencies and brokers must register as telemarketers with the DNCL administrator and pay the established subscription fees in order to obtain lists of those numbers which are not to be solicited. Real estate agencies and brokers must maintain an up-to-date call list that excludes telephone numbers registered on the DNCL as well as the numbers of any consumers who have directly requested to be excluded from the list, without going through the DNCL.
Consumers may file a complaint following an unsolicited call. To defend itself or himself, a real estate agency or broker will have to prove that he did everything possible to abide by the rules and, if applicable, that the telecommunication was an error resulting from his normal activities. He will have to keep the information used to conduct his activities on file, as this may be needed as evidence for his defence up to three years following a call (e.g. lists, contact information, etc.).
Failure on the part of telemarketers to subscribe to the DNCL or to abide by the rules related thereto will be subject to fines imposed by the CRTC.
Some telemarketing calls are exempt from the DNCL. They include calls made by or on behalf of the following individuals or organizations:
- Registered charities;
- Political parties and candidates;
- Market research or polling firms conducting public opinion poll;
- Newspapers trying to sell a subscription;
- Organizations having a business relationship with you, for example:
- You dealt with this organization over the past 18 months;
- You requested information from this organization about one of its products or services over the past six months.
In summary, regarding cold calling, real estate agencies and brokers must:
- register with the DNCL administrator and pay the subscription fees;
- have an up-to-date call list that excludes numbers registered on the DNCL;
- maintain an up-to-date list of consumers who have asked directly to be excluded from their lists without going through the DNCL;
- keep the information used in the course of their activities, in case of complaint;
- abstain from soliciting any person whose number is registered on the DNCL or who has directly requested to be taken off their list.
For more information or to register online with the DNCL, visit the CRTC's website at: www.LNNTE-DNCL.gc.ca.