Presentation on theme: "This webinar is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., a nonprofit, registered charitable organization devoted to public legal education."— Presentation transcript:
This webinar is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., a nonprofit, registered charitable organization devoted to public legal education and community advocacy training. This webinar is facilitated by Your Legal Rights, a website of legal information for community workers and advocates who work with low income and disadvantaged communities in Ontario. Funding for this webinar was provided by the Law Foundation of Ontario as part of The Connecting Project and the Connecting Communities Consortium. Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
About our presenter… Margaret Capes, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B., M.Ad.Ed, is Legal Education Coordinator of Community Law School (Sarnia- Lambton) Inc. She also acts as Review Counsel for Community Legal Services, as an adjunct professor in the clinical law program, and as faculty advisor for Pro Bono Students Canada and the Dispute Resolution Centre, all at the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario. She is the former Executive Director of Community Legal Assistance Sarnia.
The content of this webinar is based on law that was current on the date the webinar was recorded. Your Legal Rights webinars contain general legal information. They are not intended to be used as legal advice for a specific legal problem. For more information on how to find a lawyer or to contact your local community legal clinic visit: Your Legal Rights is a project of CLEO and funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario. Please Note:
Hot Topics in Consumer Protection: Fighting Telephone Trickery Using Consumer Protection Laws
Webinar Overview 1.Common Telephone Consumer Problems 2.Legal Protections 3.Telemarketers 4.Phishing Scams 6.Prize Scams 7.Resources 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
Common Telephone Consumer Problems Telemarketers *Quick deals on consumer items *Warranty Calls *Demanding payment and financial information Prize Scams *Pay a fee to claim the prize *Hefty charges on telephone bill *Never see the prize Phishing *Identity Theft *Requesting financial information under the guise of bank, company, government agency, etc Numbers *Uninformed responders fail to realize that flat charges and large per- minutes fees are being billed 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
Legal Protections: Federal Law Consumers are protected in their interactions over the telephone by a patchwork of federal laws, including the Competition Act, the Criminal Code, and the Telecommunications Act. Competition Act o The Competition Act is a federal law governing most business conduct in Canada. It contains both criminal and civil provisions aimed at preventing anticompetitive practices and providing consumers with competitive prices, product choices, and protection from fraudulent practices. o The Competition Act is administered by the Competition Bureau, which has broad investigative powers and the power to levy significant fines. Contraventions of the Competition Act can lead to possible prosecutions, with fines, and sentences up to 14 years. (Competition Act, s. 52, false or misleading representations.) Telecommunications Act o The Telecommunications Act governs all aspects of telephone communications. This Act is administered by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission. o The Telecommunications Act contains a number of regulations pertaining to unsolicited phone calls. Contraventions of the Act can result in fines from $50,000 to $1,000,000. (Telecommunications Act, ss ) 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
Legal Protections: Federal Law, Cont. Canadian Criminal Code o Telephone scams are targeted by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre, a national centre that handles complaints and educates the public about fraudulent telemarketing, mail, and internet-based pitches. o The Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre is coordinated by the Ontario Provincial Police, in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ministry of Consumer Services, and several other law enforcement agencies across Canada. o There are a number of provisions in the Criminal Code that can be used to prosecute those engaged in using the telephone as a mechanism to perpetrate fraud and theft. 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
Legal Protections: Provincial Law Consumers are protected in their interactions over the telephone provincially by Ontarios Consumer Protection Act, o Telephone agreements for goods or services which exceed $50, where one or more of the parties is located in Ontario, are governed by the Consumer Protection Act, These agreements are considered remote agreements under the Act. (Consumer Protection Act, 2002, s. 20(1); ss of O. Reg. 17/05 to the Consumer Protection Act, 2002.) o The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 is administered by the Ministry of Consumer Services. The Ministry has broad investigative powers and may conduct an inquiry into any complaint it receives. o At the conclusion of an investigation by the Ministry of Consumer Services, an individual who is convicted of an offence under the Act may be liable for fine of up to $50,000 or subject to imprisonment of not more than two years less a day, or both. A corporation that is convicted of an offence under the Act is liable for a fine of up to $250,000. (Consumer Protection Act, 2002, s. 116(5). ) 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
Telemarketers, Cont. What is telemarketing? o It is the use of the telephone or fax machine for the purpose of selling a product or service. Which telemarketers are covered by the Do Not Call List? o All telemarketers working for Canadian or non-Canadian companies who call or fax from Canada are covered, except for those listed below. o Telemarketers calling for a non-Canadian company from outside of Canada are not covered. Who may still call? (s. 41.7, Telecommunications Act) o Calls made by Canadian charities, political parties, and newspapers. o Calls made by businesses with which you already have a relationship (such as your hydro company). o Product recall calls. o Appointment rescheduling/reminder calls (for example, your dentist appointment). o Calls related to debt collection (for example, collection agencies). o Public service announcements. o Survey/public opinion polls o Any telemarketing call that you consent to receive. How to be placed on the Do Not Call List, or complain about a telemarketer o Register online; call or write the CRTC using the information on the Resources slide. Protections under the Competition Act o Deceptive telemarketing practices are also targeted by the Competition Bureau acting under the authority of the Competition Act. This Act (s. 52) prohibits making false or misleading representations in order to promote the supply of a product or a business interest during telephone calls. 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
Phishing, Cont. Phishing, which commonly happens over the internet, can also happen by phone. Phishing refers to the impersonation of a trusted person or organization in order to steal an individuals personal information, generally for the purposes of identify theft. Consumers should be suspicious if contacted unexpectedly and asked to confirm or to give out personal information, such as name, address, government-issued identification numbers, bank or credit card account numbers, etc. Phishing activities can amount to civil and criminal fraud, as well as identity theft under the Criminal Code and under the Competition Act. Consumers who are victims of phishing calls or who are simply suspicious about a call should contact their local police department, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Competition Bureau, the Ministry of Consumer Services (see Resources list for contact information), as well as their banks and credit card companies as soon as possible. Banks and credit card companies may be willing to reimburse accounts if they see that the victim is serious about reporting the scam to the authorities. 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
1-900 Scams Sample Scams (Created by the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services) His pager alerted the man to call an odd-looking number beginning with He answered, and then sat through a long information message about health. Before he spoke with a live person, the line was automatically disconnected. Shaking his head, he hung up. A few weeks later he received a telephone bill for $35 with the telephone number he had dialed earlier in the month beside the amount. The newspaper said to dial the number splashed across the page in bright red print to win a trip to Mexico. All you have to do is call! It sounded simple enough. The consumer decided to take the plunge. After all, what did he have to lose? He dialed the number and waited patiently for the lengthy information message to end. But before he could speak with someone, the line was automatically disconnected. He hung up. One month later, the mans telephone bill showed a $50 charge for the call he had placed. 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
1-900 Scams, Cont. Pay-per-charge numbers are used by legitimate businesses to charge their customers for information services; however, these businesses inform customers about the fee upfront. Any time a consumer calls a number, they should be aware that they are paying for the call, often at a minimum charge of approximately $35. At an average of $4.99 per minute, the cost can rise very quickly and the service usually has a voice response system that slows the call, making it hard for the caller to minimize the time on the telephone (short of hanging up) , 1-976, and are all charge-service numbers. It is important not to confuse numbers with toll-free numbers, the latter of which allow consumers to contact government and business offices without paying a long-distance charge. Toll-free numbers begin with the area codes 1-800, 1-888, and Consumers who are victims of calls or who are simply suspicious, should contact their local police department, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Competition Bureau, the Ministry of Consumer Services (see Resources list for contact information), as well as their telephone company. The telephone company may be willing to reduce the charges if the victim takes the step of reporting the activity to the authorities, as this tends to prove that they were, in fact, scammed. 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
Prize Scams Example You Won! … it will only cost you $199 One day after working a ten-hour shift at the local coffee shop, Timmy received a telephone call as he was walking in the door. The caller informed Timmy that he had just won an exclusive, all expenses paid, two-week luxury cruise stopping at all the major ports in the Caribbean Sea, as well as plane tickets. Timmy was thrilled, as he had never left London before and he had heard about Caribbean cruises on the television. Timmy was so excited that he could barely take in what he was being told. The lady on the telephone informed him that all he had to do was send the cruise company $199 in cash or cheque for administrative fees and government duties and the cruise was his. After the company received the money, he was told that he would receive his tickets in the mail, and that he could check the status of his tickets by calling a number that was provided. Timmy asked some questions, and after a couple minutes, hung up, contented that he would be going on his first cruise. Timmy was reluctant to part with the money, but decided to treat himself, as this appeared to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The next day Timmy mailed off $199 in cash to the company. Timmy called the number every day. For the first week, Timmy would hear a recorded message informing him that they had not received his money, and if he had not yet sent the money, to do so quickly before the offer expired. The next week, the recording changed and said that the money had been received and to expect a three to four week wait for the tickets as processing and transit took time. Timmy kept calling day after day for six weeks, listening to the same unchanged message, until one day he had called and the number was out of service. Timmy finally realized that he had been scammed, but it was too late: the company was gone, as was his money. 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
Prize Scams, Cont. A common telephone scam involves a telephone promoter calling a consumer to inform them they have won a prize, or are eligible for some other financial opportunity. In most cases, the company promises a valuable prize in return for a minor purchase, or the caller requires the consumers credit card number, claiming to need it to cover the shipping or administrative expenses for the prize. When consumers receive a call informing them they have won some sort of prize, the best advice is to hang up the phone. The Competition Act prohibits notices that give the general impression that an individual has won a prize or any other benefit, and asks the individual to pay money or incur a cost in order to obtain the prize or benefit. Consumers who are victims of prize or investment scams or who are simply suspicious, should contact their local police department, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Competition Bureau, the Ministry of Consumer Services (see resources list for contact information) as well as their banks and credit card companies, as soon as possible. Banks and credit card companies may be willing to reimburse accounts if they see the victim is serious about reporting the scam to the authorities 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
Resources: Contact Information Ministry of Consumer Services Consumer Protection Branch 5775 Yonge Street, Suite 1500 Toronto, ON M7A 2E5 Phone or Website: Competition Bureau 50 Victoria Street Gatineau, QC, K1A 0C9 Toll-free: Website: The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Ottawa, ON K1A 0N2 Toll-free: Website: The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (formerly Phonebusters) P.O. Box 686 North Bay, ON P1B 8J8 Telephone (toll-free): Telephone (overseas and local): Facsimile: Website: The National Do Not Call List c/o CRTC Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2 Attention: Do Not Call List Web site: Toll-free: DNCL ( ) 2012, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
This webinar was brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc. and Your Legal Rights with funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario. For more information about consumer issues visit the Consumer Law section of Your Legal Rights at For more public legal information webinars, including webinars on other consumer protection topics, visit: For information about other consumer issues, social welfare laws, and community advocacy training visit the Community Law School website at Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.