Avoiding surprises from that other unsolicited telecommunication law

With its myriad of exemptions and exceptions, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), which came into force on July 1st, 2014, can seem daunting at times. So daunting, in fact, that some REALTOR® members might be tempted to give up on this newfangled email thing and return to the good ol’ days of phone and fax solicitation. Ah, 1993, it seems like just yesterday Joe Carter hit that home run in Game 6 of the World Series…

Voice and fax solicitations are fine – provided you remember there are laws in places that cover those types of communications as well.

“What laws,” you ask? Why the National Do Not Call List, of course!

CREA first published materials on the National Do Not Call List in 2008 and 2010. Since that time the Government has tinkered with Canada’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules (the formal name of the law that sets out the rules governing the list), resulting in a few changes to how the list operates. Most notably, this past summer the CRTC announced that registrations on the National Do Not Call List will now be permanent (previously, registrations expired after 7 years), although note that as of the writing of this blog post, this change is not reflected on the National Do Not Call List website.

A number of other tweaks to the National Do Not Call List (in particular, increased subscription fees) have occurred since the list was first established and these changes are now reflected in updated guidance available to members on REALTOR Link®. However, the principles of the law remain the same:

  • The CRTC enforces the National Do Not Call List.
  • Brokerages that plan on making unsolicited telemarketing calls and faxes need to subscribe to the National Do Not Call List.
  • While the list prohibits unsolicited telephone calls and faxes, there are exceptions, most notably:
    – Calls to consumers who have given consent to being called;
    – Calls to consumers who have an existing business relationship with the brokerage; and
    – Calls to business numbers.
  • Pick a subscription list that suits your needs.

Keep in mind that brokerages also need to maintain an internal “do not call” list for people who ask not to be contacted even if their number is not on the National Do Not Call List.

Now, some might be tempted to think, “the CRTC never imposes penalties, what’s the risk?” Tell that to Thrift Magic, which recently agreed to pay $250,000 as part of a voluntary settlement after the CRTC found that it made unsolicited telemarketing calls to Canadians whose numbers were on the National Do Not Call List. Nothing thrifty about that.

So, if it’s been a while since you made any unsolicited voice or fax calls, pop in that VHS tape of the Blue Jays’ last great World Series and during the slow innings take a quick peek at the do not call guidance on REALTOR Link®. It may just help you avoid unwanted surprises with that unsolicited telecommunication law that you used to focus on prior to CASL.

The article above is for information purposes and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

Simon Parham, Legal Counsel, is always on hand to provide helpful advice to CREA, Boards, and Associations on all aspects of federal legislation that can be reduced to an acronym, including: PIPEDA; FINTRAC; and the DNCL. In his spare time, Simon enjoys running, camping, discovering the world with his daughter, and planning his “big year.”

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