Over the past 7 years, how many of us have picked up the phone and heard a ship’s whistle, followed by a booming voice saying “This is your captain speaking”.
It was a robocall scam that offered a free cruise to the Bahamas, just for filling out a survey of some sort. Despite following all the recommended steps to be removed from the list, the calls kept on coming, at least once a month.
Consolidated Travel Holdings Group Inc. has now been fined $200,000 by the CRTC, and they have promised that the calls are history. In addition to regulating broadcasting and telecommunications, the CRTC is responsible for the Do Not Call List, the registry that Ottawa created in 2008.
There has been some relief, but in many cases all the list did was confirm that the 12 million Canadians who registered did indeed have a working phone. Once that was established, it was more accurate to call it the Do Not Hesitate to Call List.
To be fair, quite a few people actually responded to the robocalls, and some did take a cruise from Florida to Nassau. But it was anything but free. The financial return must have been good, otherwise Consolidated Travel Holdings would have stopped doing it long ago, without the intervention of the CRTC. Chances are they already have a new name, and are making a new round of calls, pitching some other offer that is simply too good to be true.
Far worse than the free cruise routine is the ongoing Microsoft scam. A strange voice with a foreign accent offers to fix your computer, if you”ll only give him your password and let him in. If you resist, the caller gets very hostile.
It was 139 years ago that the telephone was invented by a great Scottish Canadian named Alexander Graham Bell. If he could have somehow forseen robocalls and other scam activity, the good doctor might well have had second thoughts about going for that patent.
I’m Roger Currie