Step 1. Dealing with the unwanted call
If you get an unsolicited phone call to buy something or make a donation:
- If the caller doesn't identify the company or charity they are calling on behalf of, ask them. They have to tell you.
- Don't give out information about your bank or credit card.
- Don't be afraid to hang up.
You have the right to request written information, a call back number, and time to think over any offer.
If you want to make a complaint about the call, make sure you get the name of the organization that called or the number where they can be reached. By law, telemarketers must give you their name and number.
If you want to end the conversation, some phrases you can use include:
"I need some time to think about this, at what number can I call you back?"
"Please put my name and number on your Do Not Call list."
"Sorry, I have a policy never to buy anything over the phone."
"No thank you"
If a telemarketer calls seeking a charitable donation, ask the telemarketer to call you back or ask for a callback number. In the meantime, call up the charity yourself to confirm that they are running a fundraising campaign. You can also check the Charities Listings on the Canada Revenue Agency website to ensure it is a registered charity.
Step 2. Register on the National Do Not Call List
To help reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive, you can register your phone number on the National Do Not Call List. This is a free service from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
When you sign up to have your phone number included on the National Do Not Call List, companies making unsolicited calls can no longer contact you. (Some callers are exempt; see below.)
After you sign up, your number will be added to the List within 24 hours. Telemarketers have 31 days to update their own information and make sure they don't call you in their next round of telemarketing.
Don't expect all calls to stop immediately. You could still receive calls within the first 31 days of signing up.
How to register
You can register your cellphone, home phone or fax number either online or by phone:
- on the National Do Not Call List website
- by calling toll-free 1-866-580-3625
- from a teletypewriter (TTY) device, dialing 1-888-362-5889
Some callers are exempt
Some telemarketing calls are exempt from the National Do Not Call List. Charities, political candidates, market researchers, and newspapers (looking for subscriptions) are still allowed to call.
As well, companies with whom you have an "existing business relationship" are also exempt. For example, if you have done business with a company in the previous 18 months, that company can call you.
After 18 months the company must stop calling if you're on the List, unless you give permission otherwise.
Telemarketers making exempt calls must maintain their own "do not call" lists. If you do not want to be called by these telemarketers, you can ask to be put on their do not call lists. They are obliged to do so within 14 days. You may want to keep a record of the date of your request.
Step 3. Make a complaint about telemarketing calls
Once you register on the National Do Not Call List, you can make a complaint about any violation of the telemarketing rules. For example, you might complain if:
- you receive a telemarketing call after registering on the national list
- you receive a call outside of permitted calling hours
- a telemarketer refuses to put your name and number on their do not call list
To make a complaint:
- go to the National Do Not Call List website
- call toll-free 1-866-580-3625
- from a teletypewriter (TTY) device, dial 1-888-362-5889
Have the telephone number and name of the telemarketer that appeared on the caller ID screen or that the person over the phone gave you.
The CRTC investigates complaints about telemarketing calls. They may contact you to get more information about your complaint. If they find that a telemarketer hasn't followed the rules, the CRTC can fine them for each violation.
The CRTC will not contact you to let you know what happened with your complaint.
Step 4. Report a deceptive telemarketing practice
If a telemarketer breaks the federal or provincial laws prohibiting deceptive telemarketing practices, you can report them. An example of deceptive telemarketing is if a caller says that you've won a prize, and all you have to do is pay for the shipping and handling fees or purchase a product to qualify.
To report deceptive telemarketing practices to the federal Competition Bureau:
- Toll-free: 1-800-348-5358
- Web: www.competitionbureau.gc.ca
To report deceptive telemarketing practices to the provincial Consumer Protection BC:
- Toll-free: 1-888-564-9963
- Web: www.consumerprotectionbc.ca
Step 5. Contact authorities if you think the call is fraudulent
Even if your phone number is on the National Do Not Call List, you might still receive fraudulent telemarketing calls. If you receive a call that you think may be fraudulent, contact law enforcement authorities or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre on their website or by toll-free phone at 1-888-495-8501.