Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA)

Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA)

November 19, 2007 12:53 ET

Telemarketing survey scams widespread, VoxPop survey finds

Four in 10 Canadians report being victimized by telemarketers posing as survey researchers

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, City Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Nov. 19, 2007) - Canadians are being victimized at an alarming rate by fraudulent telemarketers posing as survey researchers to sell products or raise money, and this illegal telemarketing practice threatens the goodwill people generally have for opinion research, according to a national survey from VoxPop, a campaign by the Marketing and Research Intelligence Association (MRIA) to give voice to Canadians and encourage participation in survey research. The MRIA governs and represents Canada's survey research industry.

The poll found that, over the past year, 41 percent of Canadian adults were contacted to participate in a research survey that actually turned out to be an attempt to sell them a product or service or ask for a donation.

"Legitimate survey researchers never, under any circumstances, sell or ask for money, and they always give the research company's name and information on the nature of the research at the beginning of the call," says VoxPop spokesperson, Brendan Wycks, Executive Director of MRIA. "Any attempt to sell or raise money following a survey request is a scam. People who receive such calls should immediately report the company's name and, if possible, its phone number to PhoneBusters, a national anti-fraud call centre jointly operated by the Competition Bureau, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police."

Canadians who are victimized by fraudulent telemarketers posing as survey researchers can reach PhoneBusters by calling toll-free 1-888-495-8501.

These illegal practices, known in the opinion research industry as Sugging (Soliciting Under the Guise of Interviewing) and Mugging (Marketing Under the Guise of Interviewing), carry a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.

The frequency of fraudulent telemarketer calls was highest in Alberta (44%) followed by Saskatchewan (43%), Ontario (43%), British Columbia (42%), Quebec (38%) and Atlantic Canada (37%).

Under the federal Competition Act, telemarketers are required by law to identify their company and disclose their true purpose at the beginning of a call. The Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (PIPEDA) also requires business organizations to obtain valid consent from Canadians before collecting, disclosing or using their personal information.

The MRIA has worked diligently with Canadian legislators to stop Sugging and Mugging with significant success. A similar study by MRIA released in 2005 found that 53 percent of Canadians had experienced Sugging in the previous year.

"The 12 percent decrease over the past two years in these destructive telemarketing practices is good news, but what is needed is greater public awareness of the problem and how to stop it," says Wycks. "First and foremost, survey respondents need to know their rights and how they can protect themselves."

The MRIA's Charter of Respondent Rights, established in 2006, enforces a strict code of conduct upon the Association's members to protect the time and privacy of survey respondents, and makes Canadians aware that they can verify the legitimacy of research projects via MRIA's Canadian Research Registration System.

People can verify the legitimacy and nature of the research they are being asked to participate in by asking for the survey's registration code or calling a toll-free number (1-800-554-9996) for information on the research project. MRIA member research firms will provide this information upon request, along with contact information for the research director who is conducting the study.

Canadians can also visit to learn more about their rights as survey respondents and a new information campaign from MRIA, called VoxPop (Voice of the People), to educate Canadians about the value of opinion research and encourage participation in surveys.

The VoxPop survey also examined attitudes towards opinion research, and revealed that a strong majority of Canadians believe survey research creates economic and social value by giving individuals direct influence over decisions made by governments and corporations.

Eight in 10 respondents (81%) felt surveys and polls serve a useful purpose; 74 percent agreed participation in surveys gives people the opportunity to influence public policy issues, and 88 percent agreed surveys enable people to voice their opinions to companies about the quality of their products and services.

"Canadians overwhelmingly maintain a high regard for survey research, but deceptive telemarketing practices threaten that goodwill," says Wycks. "No other vehicle offers such influence, or delivers such tangible benefits to all Canadians. That's why, when telemarketer scams victimize research respondents, we all lose."

The MRIA survey studying the incidence of Sugging and Mugging was conducted via telephone in August 2007 with a national random sample of 1,531 adult Canadian respondents and is considered accurate within ± 2.5 percent, 19 times out of 20.

This survey is part of a series from VoxPop, a campaign to give voice to Canadians and encourage participation in opinion research. VoxPop: You speak. We listen. Things improve.
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Contact Information

  • Terance brouse, Xposure PR
    Primary Phone: 905-832-7653
    Secondary Phone: 647-274-5249