Five companies have been levied penalties totaling $643,500 for allegedly violating do-not-call list rules and in some cases seeking remote access to home computers under the pretext of removing viruses and other malicious software.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s chief compliance and enforcement officer, Manon Bombardier, issued notices of violation Thursday to the three Canadian-based companies.
Two Indian call centre operators who have not been identified will be served their violation notices via the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Canadian telecom regulator alleges that the anti-virus software telemarketers made calls to households whose phone numbers are registered on the national do-not call list and falsely identified themselves as representatives of either Microsoft, U.S. Homeland Security of the Government of Canada.
The companies made the unsolicited telemarketing calls without being registered with the national DNCL operator, and without having purchased a subscription to the list.
As part of its long-term investigation the CRTC in November for the first time obtained and executed a warrant to enter and inspect a property serving as one of the companies’ base of operations in Brampton. The CRTC did not specify the company.
The Canadian companies — Thee Future Web Ltd., 8166200 Canada Inc. and NextGen Webstore Ltd. — were fined $194,000, $76,000 and $56,000, respectively.
The remaining $317,500 in penalties has been brought against the Indian call centres.
The Canadian and Indian companies have 30 days after being served with the violation notice to either pay the penalty or file representations to the CRTC. They have also been required to immediately stop all calls that are not in compliance with telemarketing rules.
The CRTC says it investigations of telemarketing rules violations netted nearly $6.5 million in penalties to date, with the funds remitted to the Receiver General for Canada.
Launched in 2008 to protect Canadians from unsolicited telecommunications, the do-not call list has more than 13 million members. Households can register their home phone, wireless, fax or VoIP numbers permanently for no charge, verify whether a number is on the list or file a complaint about a telemarketer by calling 1-866-580-DNCL (3625) or visiting www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca .
“When making calls to Canadians, companies must follow the telemarketing rules, regardless of where they are located,” Bombardier said