In general, telemarketing refers to the selling of goods or services, for example anything from magazines to chimney and carpet cleaning services, photocopier toner, and even the solicitation of charitable donations over the telephone.

Canadians can sign up for the National Do Not Call List (DNCL) which may help them reduce the number of telemarketing calls they receive and maintain their personal privacy. Canadians can make a complaint about telemarketers who violate the DNCL rules by contacting DNCL operators via their website or by telephone.

The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) offers a Do Not Contact Service which allows consumers to reduce the number of marketing offers they receive by mail. Visit for more information on this service. Both these services are free of charge.

Deceptive Telemarketing Practices

While many legitimate businesses use the telephone to make their sales, so do an increasing number of fraudulent companies.

To report deceptive telemarketing practices, contact the Competition Bureau or your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office. You may also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. You can also learn about consumer scams and find advice on how to deal with them on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) website.

Tips for Smart Telephone Shopping

  • When you are told that you have won a prize, do not commit to purchase any product or pay any additional fee in order to collect your prize.
  • Always keep a record of the name, address and phone number of the person and the company you dealt with, the goods you ordered, the date of your purchase, the amount you paid (including shipping and handling) and the method of payment.
  • Keep a record of any delivery date that was promised.
  • If you are told that the shipment will be delayed, write the date of that notice in your records along with the new shipping date, if you've agreed to wait longer.

Use Caution and Common Sense

  • Don't be pressured into acting immediately or without having all the information you need.
  • When an offer sounds too good to be true, think twice before making your final decision.
  • Shop around and compare costs and services.
  • Check with your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office or the Better Business Bureau to see whether there have been any complaints about the company.
  • Even if you have signed up for the National Do Not Call List (DNCL), registered charities are still allowed to call for donations, and certain other organizations-such as companies conducting polls or surveys, political parties, and newspapers looking for subscriptions-can also continue to contact you. As well, if you've done business with a company in the last 18 months, that company is consi dered to have a relationship with you and is allowed to call.
  • Deceptive notices of winning a prize may constitute an offence under the Competition Act. To report a deceptive notice of winning a prize, contact the Competition Bureau.


Vishing, or voice phishing, occurs when a fraudulent company uses a new technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) through the telephone system to falsely claim to be a legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam people into disclosing personal information. For example, some people may pretend to be calling from governments, financial institutions, as well as online auctions and their payment services.

Typically, there is a recorded incoming message that uses a fraudulent caller ID that matches the identity of a misrepresented organization. The message directs unsuspecting users to another telephone number, and they are then told to enter their personal information using their telephone keypad. Criminals can then capture the key tones and convert them back to numerical format, stealing the information.

Vishing is used to target any numerical data, such as credit card information, personal identification numbers (PIN), social insurance numbers (SIN), dates of birth and bank account numbers.

Being aware of such fraudulent practices is the greatest form of protection, so always be suspicious when you receive unsolicited incoming communications. Never provide personal information over the phone and do not rely solely on caller ID as proof of an organization's legitimacy.

For more information on vishing, visit the Scams/Fraud section of the RCMP website.

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