Best Practices for Do-Not-Call Lists
Lead generation is an important part of a REALTOR®'s work but there are some risks too, especially when it comes to telemarketing. REALTORS® and brokerages need to understand their role in protecting consumer privacy before picking up the phone – and it starts with the national Do-Not-Call List.
What’s the national Do-Not-Call List?
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) maintains a national Do-Not-Call List (DNCL), which contains the names and telephone numbers of people who do not want to receive unsolicited telephone calls or messages.
Anyone, whether a corporation or private individual, who wants to generate leads by phone must buy a subscription to the Do-Not-Call List, as well as maintain an internal office DNCL. Offices are required to keep telephone numbers on internal lists for three years and 14 days. There is an Excel form available on REALTOR Link® for brokerages to use as a template to build and maintain their office’s do-not-call list.
Failure to comply with the national DNCL can result in significant penalties of up to $1,500 per violation in the case of an individual and up to $15,000 per violation in the case of a corporation.
Is there a problem?
The CRTC receives 300 complaints per day relating to the DNCL. Two common complaints related to the real estate sector include:
- brokerages using external telemarketers to make calls without the brokerage having registered or subscribed to the DNCL, and
- attempts to avoid compliance by disguising a sales call as a survey (opinion polling and market research firms conducting surveys aren’t required to follow DNCL rules).
What can REALTORS® do?
Since brokerages are liable for calls made on their behalf by telemarketing service providers, it’s vital to ensure that you’re working with one that is 100 per cent compliant with the DNCL rules. Do some research, request documentation verifying the company’s compliance and consider making inquiries to ensure that they really have their house in order.
Brokerages that directly make cold calls or engage in telemarketing practices should also have their own office do-not-call policies that they can give to consumers on request and to ensure compliance with office policies. You can find a template for developing an office policy for your brokerage here.
If you directly engage in telemarketing, it’s helpful to have a prepared script to ensure compliance. For example, the federal Telecommunications Act requires brokerages to immediately disclose the purpose of your call and the company or individual you represent; having a script can make it easier to comply.
What about referrals?
If one of your clients gives you a referral and the referral telephone number is not registered on the national DNCL, you are free to call that number. When it comes to clients you have had a previous relationship with, you are allowed to call them for up to 18 months after your business relationship has ended.
If you have further questions to ensure calling practices are consistent with the law, email [email protected]. To learn more about the CRTC DNCL, visit the Canadian Real Estate Association’s FAQ and resources on REALTOR Link®.
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