GATINEAU, Que. - The CRTC wants to make phone and fax numbers on the national do-not-call list permanent and crack down on what it calls "rogue" telemarketers.
The federal regulator said Monday that almost 12 million numbers have been registered to avoid telemarketing pitches since the list was launched on Sept. 30, 2008.
Numbers on the list were to be removed five years after registration, but the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said all numbers on the list have been extended for at least a year to Sept. 30, 2014, while it looks at making the list permanent.
"Canadians who registered their numbers with the National DNCL five years ago may not be aware that their registrations were about to expire," CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a news release on Monday.
"In order to facilitate this consultation, we have extended the life of the list so that Canadians do not have to worry about receiving calls for the time being."
Once a number is on the no-call registry, telemarketers are barred from dialing that number and face fines if they do.
"Since its launch, millions of Canadians registered their numbers on the list to avoid receiving telemarketing calls and faxes. Telemarketers are getting the message that they must respect this choice or face the consequences, which can include hefty monetary penalties," Blais said.
The CRTC also said that since Sept. 30, 2008, nearly 10,000 telemarketers have registered with the list, including some from the United States, India and the Philippines.
The CRTC said the majority are following the rules, but noted it's a challenge to track down so-called rogue telemarketers who knowingly ignore the rules, use technology to hide their identities and call Canadians repeatedly at all hours.
"...Rogue telemarketers present an ongoing challenge for enforcement agencies around the globe," Blais said. "In collaboration with our partners, we are stepping up our efforts to track down these rogue telemarketers."
The CRTC said it's asking Canadians who have been reassigned previously disconnected phone or fax numbers on the list how they should be notified about this and whether it should be done by the CRTC or telecom carriers, acknowledging that some Canadians may want to receive telemarketing calls.
Canadians have until Oct. 30 to share their views.
The CRTC said it has conducted more than 1,200 telemarketing investigations, resulting in $3.4 million in penalties and $741,000 in other payments.
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