CRTC sinks ‘foghorn’ telemarketing calls

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Those annoying foghorn robocalls have been officially silenced.

And the Florida-based telemarketing firm behind them — Consolidated Travel Holdings Group Inc. — has been slapped with a $200,000 fine for the unsolicited calls that promised a free cruise in return for answering a survey.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission launched an investigation in response to complaints from Canadians. It found that Caribbean Cruise Line Inc., which is owned by Consolidated Travel Holdings, was making automated calls to people registered on the National Do Not Call List.

The CRTC joined forces with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and 10 state attorneys to reach what’s ultimately a multimillion-dollar settlement against the company.

The firm apparently averaged between 12 to 15 million calls per day in North America, frequently to people on do-not-call lists. U.S. officials said the company made “billions” off the calls, yet only netted a US$7.7-million civil penalty, and most of that will be reduced after the company pays $500,000.

The company voluntarily agreed to stop calling Canadians, so you’ll have to turn elsewhere for free cruises and other dubious vacation deals.

Aside from violating the Do Not Call List, the company also broke CRTC rules against robocalls. The agency’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules says a company must make “all reasonable efforts” to avoid making calls using an automated system unless the consumer has consented to be robocalled.

The CRTC/FTC tag-team has been a fruitful one. In 2012, they combined with Australian authorities to fine two Indian companies a total $507,000 for fraudulent tech-support and antivirus product sales.

To date, the do-not-call-list enforcement has levied some $6 million in penalties.

The CRTC announced the fine Wednesday, the same day it levied a $1.1 million fine against Compu-Finder for email spamming.

Read: Anti-spam law FAQ


Over 12 million Canadian numbers are registered on the DNCL, but signing up doesn’t leave you totally immune to annoying calls.

You can still receive calls from: 

  • registered charities;
  • political parties, candidates and riding associations
  • ·newspapers seeking subscribers
  • businesses with which you have an ongoing relationship, like your bank.

Some telemarketers can also call you if:

  • You bought, rented or leased a service or product from them in the last 18 months.
  • You have a written contract with that company that is active or expired in the last 18 months.
  • You inquired about their services or products within the last six months.

 And, of course, you’ll still receive many scam calls. Many foreign telemarketing firms use “spoofing” technology, which tricks caller ID into displaying a fake phone number. Those companies are essentially untraceable and out of the CRTC’s reach.

So you may not get more calls saying “This is your captain speaking,” but stay on your guard nonetheless.

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