The National Do Not Call legislation is intended to prevent the solicitation of consumers by way of telephone when those consumers have specifically opted out of such phone calls. Heaven knows I have no intention of making this article an exhaustive explanation of this Federal legislation, but there are some high points that REALTORS® need to know about the practical aspects of this legislation to their business.
Yes, there is a list because the National Do Not Call legislation is an opt-in program where individuals who do not want to receive commercial marketing calls need to register on the list.
To register a number, the process is simple and online at which point telemarketers must cease any calls within 30 days.
How do telemarketers know what numbers they can and cannot call you may wonder, of course by checking the list before each call. Follow the bouncing logic ball, and that means before the call is placed the CURRENT list must be checked because numbers can be added at any time. Suffice it to say that the Do Not Call List is the core of the program.
Do you call people for commercial purposes? If you are a REALTOR® registered to a brokerage then the answer is yes of course. REALTORS® use the phone daily for their business which means they are considered telemarketers, but because a REALTOR® must be registered to a brokerage, it is actually the brokerage that must register as a telemarketer under the regulations.
Although the brokerage is the telemarketer according to the CRTC, the REALTOR® is normally the one making the phone calls so the brokerage must have a policy in the brokerage which informs their REALTORS® about the established protocols to follow before making a commercial phone call. Included in the policy must be the creation of an internal list of phone numbers that cannot be called in addition to the national list.
There is an exemption relating to past business relationships that REALTORS® should be aware of as well. A business relationship under the rules is triggered in one of 3 ways:
These triggers provide a period of time for customer service and follow-up, or additional business generation but consent for that communication can be revoked by the consumer at any time by asking not to be called anymore. For this reason, brokerages, and REALTORS® should be careful to provide value to the consumer in these subsequent interactions to ensure the lines of communication remain open.
Checking The List
The brokerage is required to:
Additionally, the brokerage needs to either subscribe to the National list and keep it current for REALTORS® to check as part of the program or provide a phone number query option through the brokerage on a per-number basis before the REALTOR® makes commercial phone calls that don’t fall under the exemption.
The brokerage is permitted to charge a fee for the program operation to its members as well to help cover some of the high costs of compliance. Because of the liabilities to the brokerage, it is prudent for brokers who are hiring new REALTORS® to ensure that they have a copy of the brokerage policy and procedures on this program at the time of joining the brokerage as well as acknowledging they understand the program and agree to abide by it.
Dangers To Avoid
AREA has received several calls from brokerages who have received investigations and fines from the CRTC under the Do Not Call rules ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars. Many of these fines resulted from either poor/no compliance protocols and administration in the brokerage, or REALTORS® purchasing lead lists or “pre-qualified” leads from third party companies. Both are extremely dangerous.
In the first case, a brokerage must comply with the legislation and take steps to ensure the compliance of their REALTORS®. CREA has done an incredible job of preparing resources to this end for brokers through REALTORLink.
In the second case, the CRTC draws a line from the individual dialing numbers from even a foreign country as they compile a non-compliant list of leads, through the company compiling and marketing the lists to REALTORS®, through the REALTOR® buying the list, finally to the brokerage! This means that lead lists purchased and used by REALTORS® or brokerages must be certifiably generated at the primary level according to the National Do Not Call list or the brokerage can and will be held responsible. My advice is don’t buy lead lists generated outside of your brokerage and its compliance policies. They are rarely as good as they claim and are never worth the long-range risk.
Although the National Do Not Call list can be seen as more government overburden on brokerages and REALTORS®, it is law and compliance can be achieved with a little time, elbow grease, and the use of tools that CREA has already developed to help member brokers. It only seems ridiculous until as a broker you receive that dreaded investigation letter from the CRTC and then it may be too late to avoid serious penalties and be forced to seek indemnification from your own REALTOR®.
Provincial Practice Advisor
Bryan has many years of experience in the real estate industry including over 10 years as a former broker in the Edmonton Region.
Email: email@example.comPhone: 403-209-3619