Back in January, CBC’s Marketplace did a feature story about the Telemarketers From Hell – the duct cleaning scam that has if not terrorized, at least pestered to near death thousands of homeowners across Canada. Their call centres, usually based in East Asia, operate brazenly, and have thumbed their noses at the National Do Not Call List, and the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) by spoofing, or using fake telephone numbers.

Marketplace interviewed Andrea Rosen, Chief of Compliance and Enforcement at the CRTC. She stated that this scam has occurred due to the influx of off-shore telemarketers, and that it was difficult to find them. She also stated that the only action that they can take is based on the information that they receive, and that they can’t reach them because they don’t know the identities of the callers. They even went so far as to track down the call centre operating in Karachi, Pakistan.

Well, I’m sick and tired of being harassed by these types of calls, so I undertook a “sting operation” to catch them red-handed, and BUST THEM. This is what happened.

I received one of these calls from a spoofed telephone number registered to the Cooperators Insurance Company. I arranged for them to come over to my house, and they provided me with a telephone number. Several hours later, I called the same number to confirm my appointment to have my ducts cleaned. Guess what? The same person who called me answered and I was able to confirm my appointment for the next day.

I then contact the DNC List to provide them with this information. I asked when they would be investigating my complaint. Their response was that they didn’t know, since they have many complaints. But I said that I have a legitimate telephone number which is registered in Canada and all you have to do is track it down to prosecute. It was like talking to deaf ears.

The next day, the duct cleaners showed up in a white unmarked panel truck.

Unmarked Van Used by Duct Cleaning Telemarkets

You should see the photo that I took of one of the men running away from me and my cellphone camera.

Duct Cleaner Running Away from Truck

The next day, I called the DNC List to give them the additional information about their truck license number. Lo and behold, they wouldn’t take the additional information since it was not a new complaint. Isn’t that ridiculous?

Duct Cleaning Truck Plate

I later found out that the DO NOT CALL LIST is not operated by the Canadian Government or the CRTC, but by a private company, probably Bell Canada.

By this time, I was 12 shades of red.

Recently, Andrea Rosen stated that: “Foreign-based telemarketers have been put on notice that they must comply with our rules when calling Canadians,” Andrea Rosen, the CRTC’s chief compliance and enforcement officer. That doesn’t mean much when you are located in India or Pakistan.

What is the CRTC going to do – go to Pakistan and give them a fine? I doubt it, and if they did, the telemarketers would just laugh. What about bringing charges against those who operate and represent them in Canada?

So I called Andrea Rosen, the Chief of Compliance and Enforcement at the CRTC. Well, she was away on holidays, and I ended up speaking to Lynn Anne Perrault.

I told her that I couldn’t understand why the DNC List will not take additional information which would provide another avenue in which to track down those violating the law. How can you do a proper investigation or prosecution without all the information or evidence?

Ms. Perrault assured me that the CRTC’s Investigations Division would call me the next day. Two days later a member of the Investigations Division, who happened to be an RCMP officer on secondment to the CRTC called me. He took down my information.

I asked if he would be investigating and prosecuting based on my information and photos. His response was that the CRTC has “its hands bound in many of these types of cases since it didn’t have the authority”.

I really didn’t think very much of this response. So I asked him, as a police officer, if he ever had taken an oath to enforce the laws of this country. What I was getting at is that irrespective of the fact that he is currently seconded to the CRTC, he is first and foremost, a police officer and as such is obligated to enforce the regulations and laws of the country, and the DO NOT CALL List just happens to be one of these regulations and laws.

I also said that he is obligated to prosecute, specially when evidence can be provided by a witness who is ready to testify.

I don’t think that he appreciated this question. But nevertheless, he agreed to follow-up with my complaint. Now, I’m waiting to hear back from him.

Andrea Rosen, I don’t think that you and the CRTC are living up to your promise of prosecuting these callers when it is easy to find them. Their telephone number is a good and valid number.

How hard can it be to contact the appropriate authorities such as Bell Canada and the Ministry of Transportation (Ontario) and track them down? They are key facts that can be used to track down one of these parties that have violated the DNC List.

Are the DNC List and the CRTC doing everything that they can to stop Canadians being harassed in this way? I doubt it!


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