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Telemarketer faces record fine for violating Do Not Call list

A telemarketing firm has paid a record penalty for making banned phone calls.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says Xentel DM Inc. paid a $500,000 "administrative monetary penalty" for what it calls unauthorized telemarketing practices.

A CRTC investigation found that Xentel called consumers who had registered their numbers with the National Do Not Call List.

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It also promoted events on its own behalf or on behalf of groups that were not registered as charities with the Canada Revenue Agency.

The do-not-call rules provide an exemption for registered charities.

Implemented in September 2008, the National Do Not Call List is a free service that is supposed to restrict the number of unwanted telemarketing calls and faxes people receive.

Telemarketers are barred from dialling a number once it is on the list, and face stiff penalties if they do.

The program came under early criticism from federal opposition MPs and others when it appeared the penalty regime was not being enforced.

Almost 8.7 million numbers had been listed by last month, and 102 investigations of potential violations were underway. The agency has imposed 25 monetary penalties since the program was introduced.

"The rules are quite clear as to what types of calls are exempt from the National Do Not Call List," Andrea Rosen, the CRTC's chief telecommunications enforcement officer, said in a statement Friday.

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"We appreciate Xentel's commitment to change its telemarketing practices in order to address our concerns. Education is an important part of any compliance program, and we are working with the industry to make certain that telemarketers understand their responsibilities."

Xentel agreed to publish corrective notices in newspapers and on its website. It will also implement a compliance program to ensure that its telemarketing practices are within the rules and verify that its representatives are properly trained.

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