The much anticipated National Do Not Call List (DNCL) was launched on September 30, 2008 and is being operated by Bell Canada (Bell). While consumers may still register their telephone numbers with individual telemarketers as part of each telemarketer’s mandatory internal do not call list, the DNCL provides consumers with the option of registering on a central, nationwide list to help prevent unwanted calls. This comprehensive list will make it more difficult for telemarketers to contact Canadian consumers.

Consumer Registration

As of September 30th, Canadian consumers are able to register their telephone numbers (landline, wireless, VOIP and/or fax) on the DNCL to reduce the number of telemarketing calls they receive. There is no charge to register. Registration may be done either online at www.LNNTE-DNCL.gc.ca or by calling a toll-free number and takes effect 31 days later. Registration lasts for three years, at which time the consumer can re-register. A consumer may de-register at any time online or by telephone.

Telemarketer Registration and Subscription

Telemarketers making calls on their own behalf, clients of telemarketers, subscribers of the DNCL and organizations that provide telemarketing related services (i.e., list scrubbing) must register their information with Bell even if they are making calls that are exempt under the National DNCL Rules (the Rules). Registration is free and is effective for 12 months. Each separate legal entity that engages in telemarketing must register, including individual affiliates of a large company. Telemarketers who are not required to subscribe to the DNCL and who only make calls on behalf of their clients do not need to register.

Where telemarketers and clients of telemarketers make calls that are not exempt under the Rules, they must obtain a subscription to the DNCL. As with registration, each separate legal entity must subscribe. A subscriber is not allowed to sell, rent, lease, publish, share or otherwise disclose the DNCL to any affiliate or third party. However, if the head office of a company provides telemarketing services (i.e., scrubbing) to one of its affiliates, the affiliate may share the DNCL with the head office.

There are different subscription options available. For example, an annual subscription to all Canadian area codes costs $11,280 and an individual area code subscription costs $615 per year. Telemarketers have 31 days from September 30th to subscribe and access the DNCL to update their internal call lists to be in compliance with the Rules. Subscribers must keep a record of their subscription and required fee payments for three years.

Telemarketers or clients of telemarketers operating outside of Canada who solicit Canadian consumers must register and subscribe to the DNCL. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has indicated that if an international telemarketer is found to be in violation of the Rules, it will pursue the Canadian company associated with that telemarketer.

Exempt Calls

The CRTC has provided exemptions from the Rules based on the type of call being made. Calls made by or on behalf of Canadian registered charities, political parties, riding associations, political candidates and general circulation newspapers attempting to get new business are exempt. Additionally, businesses can take advantage of the “existing business relationship” and “business-to-business” exemptions. They can also make telemarketing calls to consumers who have provided express oral or written consent to being contacted by the telemarketer. This consent overrides the consumer’s DNCL registration.

Violations of the DNCL

The CRTC currently handles all consumer complaints of violations of the Unsolicited Telecommunication Rules that are made up of the Telemarketing Rules, the National Do Not Call List Rules and the Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device Rules. For the DNCL Rules, if a consumer receives a call to a registered number after October 31, 2008 the consumer may file a complaint with the CRTC against the telemarketer or client of the telemarketer. The complaint must be filed within 14 days of receiving the call.

If the telemarketer or client of the telemarketer is unable to provide a due diligence defence and the CRTC finds the party to be in violation of the Rules, the CRTC may impose an administrative penalty of up to $15,000 for corporations and $1,500 for individuals. However, the CRTC has stated that it will encourage corrective action to facilitate compliance with the Rules before imposing penalties. To avoid a violation of the DNCL, it is recommended that telemarketers engaged in ongoing telemarketing activities download the DNCL every 31 days to ensure that their internal lists are up-to-date. Eventually, the CRTC will delegate compliance investigations to a third-party Complaints Investigator. When this occurs, it is likely that a fee will be charged to telemarketers and their clients to aid in the administration of this service.