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CIBC admits some calls illegally recorded

Globe and Mail Update


One of Canada's biggest banks has allegedly been illegally recording telephone conversations with its customers for more than four months.

Yesterday, CIBC chairman Bill Etherington admitted his bank has so far failed to educate its employees on new privacy standards introduced by the Privacy Commission of Canada last October. Under the new legislation, businesses and telemarketers that place cold calls to customers are now required to ask for permission before recording the conversations.

Mr. Etherington made the admission during the bank's annual general meeting, after being confronted by Rick Garrett, a 55-year-old retiree from Charlottetown, PEI, who flew into Toronto specifically to address the assembled CIBC executives and shareholders regarding the bank's telemarketing practices.

"I think it's sort of an invasion into my home when someone calls me to record my voice and my ups and my downs and my good days and my bad," Mr. Garrett said during the meeting. "I'm a little upset about this bank's slow reaction to what I consider to be an invasion of your customers homes, businesses and cellphones."

Although federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart made the ruling four months ago, CIBC executives are still working with her office "to determine how this will be properly implemented," Mr. Etherington said in response to Mr. Garrett's question.

Other banks and telecom companies contacted by The Globe say they have already instituted policies requiring telemarketers to inform customers that outbound calls may be recorded.

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