Marketplace salespeople

Nova Scotia is cracking down on aggressive door-to-door salespeople by restricting multi-year contracts to a two-year maximum. (CBC)

The province of Nova Scotia is cracking down on door-to-door salespeople who are overly aggressive or persistent in getting people to sign multi-year contracts.

Mark Fury, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia, said there's a particular concern for those who prey on seniors.

"Service Nova Scotia has received dozens of complaints and inquiries from seniors, advocates and police agencies since 2011 about direct sellers of alarm systems and alarm monitoring within the province," he said Tuesday.

"The complaints range from unfair and excessively long contracts to systems that don't function properly."

Fury said the province is increasing fines because the current penalties have not been enough of a deterrent. He said any individual convicted of breaking the rules — such as not having a proper permit — will face fines that range from $500 to a maximum of $25,000.

The previous fines were between $100 and $1,000.

There's also an increased fine for companies. They can be fined up to $300,000 — the previous maximum was $1,000.

Fury said multi-year contracts will be restricted to a two-year maximum and people who sign multi-year contracts will be able to break those contracts at any time.

The Direct Sellers' Regulation Act, which was introduced in 1975, has not been amended since 1999. It's meant to protect consumers who make direct-sale purchases by giving them a 10-day "cooling off" period that allows them to cancel a contract for a refund.

"The changes provide greater consumer protection for door-to-door sales and will give us flexibility to address emerging issues as they come up," Furey said in a statement.

"Our ability to act quickly and publicize non-compliance is important to protect consumers."

The amendments to the act also gives the province the right to name companies it suspects of breaking the rules.

Right now, warnings are only issued after a conviction.