National Do Not Call List and Telemarketing Rules
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has established rules that telemarketers and organizations who hire telemarketers must follow. These rules are called the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules and include:
The full set of Rules can be found on the Telemarketing information page in the Consumers section of the CRTC website. For your convenience, the Rules have been summarized and written in plain language below.
Application of the Rules
Telemarketing calls made on behalf of certain organizations or made for certain purposes as listed below, are exempt from the National DNCL Rules:
- Canadian registered charities;
- Political parties;
- Nomination contestants, leadership contestants or federal, provincial or municipal candidates;
- General circulation newspapers calling for the purpose of selling a subscription;
- Calls to a consumer who has an existing business relationship with the organization;
- Calls to a consumer who has given express consent to be called; and
- Calls to business consumers.
For more information on calls that are exempt from the National DNCL Rules and a telemarketer’s obligations when making exempt telemarketing calls, please consult the Exemptions.
The Telemarketing Rules and Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device (ADAD) Rules apply to all telemarketers and clients of 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 and Telemarketing Rules do not apply to calls made for the purposes of marketing research, surveys, or public opinion polls, or calls to collect overdue accounts, since these types of calls are not telemarketing calls. Certain aspects of the ADAD Rules do apply to these calls; for more information, please consult the ADAD Rules found in Part IV of the CRTC Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules.
- 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.
- Is any person or organization who makes telemarketing calls on their own behalf or who makes telemarketing calls for someone else.
- Client of a telemarketer
- Is any person or organization who has engaged a telemarketer to make calls on their behalf.
- Abandoned call
- Is a telemarketing call placed by a predictive dialing device which, when answered by a consumer, has no live telemarketer available to speak to the consumer within two seconds. The percentage of telemarketing calls placed by a predictive dialing device that are abandoned is the abandonment rate.
National Do Not Call List Rules
- Telemarketers shall not call a consumer’s telephone number that has been registered on the National DNCL for more than 31 days, unless the consumer has given prior express consent to be called.
- Clients of a telemarketer shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure a telemarketer calling on the client’s behalf shall not call a consumer’s telephone number that has been registered on the National DNCL for more than 31 days, unless the consumer has given the client prior express consent to be called.
- Consumers’ express consent must clearly indicate their consent to be called and the telephone number at which they are consenting to be called.
- Consumers may withdraw their consent at any time.
- Telemarketers and clients of telemarketers must subscribe to the National DNCL and pay any applicable subscription fees before any telemarketing calls are made.
- Telemarketers must keep proof of their National DNCL subscription and payment of fees. If they are calling on behalf of a client, they must keep proof of their client’s National DNCL subscription and payment of fees for a period of three (3) years.
- The National DNCL must not be used for any purpose other than compliance with the Rules.
- The National DNCL must not be sold, rented, leased, published or disclosed to any person outside of the telemarketer’s or client of the telemarketer’s organization.
- The National DNCL may be shared with a person providing services that enable the telemarketer or client of a telemarketer to comply with the National DNCL Rules provided the National DNCL is required and used by that person only to enable compliance and the disclosure is done on a confidential basis.
- Organizations making telemarketing calls that are exempt from the National DNCL Rules must:
- Maintain an internal do not call list and respect the consumer’s specific request not to be called;
- Tell the consumer the purpose of the telemarketing call at the beginning of the call; and
- Identify on whose behalf the call is being made.
Telemarketing Rules that apply to both voice and fax telemarketing 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 on calling hours refer to the time zone of the customer receiving the telephone calls.
- 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 from 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 the 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, or are associated with healthcare facilities.
- Internal do not call lists are to be maintained by the telemarketer on its own behalf or by a client of a telemarketer.
- Telemarketers are required to put a consumer’s name and telephone number on their own internal do not call list within 14 days of the consumer’s request.
- A telemarketer calling on behalf of another organization, or a client, is required to ensure the consumer’s name and number are added to that organization’s or client's own internal do not call list within 14 days.
- A consumer’s request not to be called must remain active for three (3) years effective within 14 days from the date of the consumer's do not call 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.
Telemarketing Rules that apply only to voice telemarketing calls:
- A telemarketer making a telemarketing call must process a do not call request from a consumer at the time of the call. The consumer shall not be asked to call elsewhere to make their request.
- At the beginning of a call, a telemarketer must:
- Identify the name or fictitious name of the individual placing the call;
- Identify the name of the telemarketer whether calling on its own behalf or on behalf of a client of the telemarketer;
- 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 e-mail or postal mailing address of an employee or other representative of the telemarketer and, where applicable, its client, to whom the consumer can write.
Telemarketing Rules that apply only to fax telemarketing calls:
- The following information must be provided at the top of the first page in 12-point font 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 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 e-mail or postal mailing address of an employee or other representative of the telemarketer, or client where applicable, to whom the consumer can write.
Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device Rules
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 may not be used for telemarketing unless the consumer has given express consent to accept an ADAD telemarketing call. This includes telemarketing via an ADAD that is initiated by or on behalf of a Canadian registered 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 for calls when there is no attempt to sell, such as calls made for public service reasons, including calls 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 calls 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) except where provincial laws apply to the specific type of call. The hours refer to those of the person receiving the call. 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 brief description of the purpose of the call, an e-mail or postal mailing adddress, 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 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 called party hanging up.
Accepted forms of express consent include:
- Written consent including a completed application form signed by the consumer giving consent to be contacted by telephone;
- Oral consent including oral consent verified by a third party or where an audio recording of the consent is retained by the telemarketer or client of the telemarketer;
- Electronic consent through the use of a toll-free number or via the Internet; or
- Consent through other methods as long as a record of the consent is created by the consumer or an independent third party.
The onus is on the telemarketer and, where applicable, the client of the telemarketer to prove the consumer provided valid express consent.
Any records which are required to be kept by the National DNCL Rules, the Telemarketing Rules, or any other Rules and any other records kept with regard to telemarketing activities subject to the Rules:
- May be kept in any form and in the same format as a telemarketer or a client of a telemarketer would keep in the ordinary course of business;
- Are required to be maintained in such a manner that the records are readily accessible to facilitate investigations of complaints; and
- Are required to be provided to the CRTC within 30 days of a request made by the CRTC.
The Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules include a section on liability that outlines what a telemarketer or client of a telemarketer may demonstrate as part of a due diligence defence in the event it is determined that a violation of the Rules has occurred. In addition, this section includes what a telemarketer or client of a telemarketer may provide if proof is required to demonstrate a telemarketing call made to a consumer registered on the National DNCL is an exempted call. Please consult the full set of Rules on the Telemarketing information page in the Consumers section of the CRTC website.