New caller ID verification program expected to protect Canadians from ‘spoof’ calls

Telecom companies should be able to implement verification systems by Sept. 30, 2020

Some of Canada’s telephone providers are being called on by the country’s telecom regulator to add to their arsenals in the battle against phone scammers.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced Monday that it expects companies that provide Internet-based phone services to adopt new technology by next fall aimed at reducing the number of fake calls received by unsuspecting consumers.

To better protect Canadians from so-called “spoof” calls, telecom companies should be able to implement systems by Sept. 30, 2020 that will give many consumers the ability to verify whether calls they receive are from legitimate people, businesses or government agencies, the CRTC said.

The regulator wants service providers to adopt a new framework, known by the acronym STIR/SHAKEN and already adopted in parts of the United States, that will allow Canadians with Internet Protocol or VOIP-based phones, or mobile phones, to see whether calls they receive can be trusted.

“Nuisance calls are a major irritant for many Canadians,” CRTC chairman Ian Scott said in a statement.

“The new STIR/SHAKEN framework will enable Canadians to know, before they answer the phone, whether a call is legitimate or whether it should be treated with suspicion.”

It is not clear, however, how the calls will be verified.

READ MORE: Scammers are spoofing federal agency phone numbers, Canadian anti-fraud centre says

That will depend on how service providers implement the technology, said the regulator, calling the required technical changes “complicated.”

The regulator says that roughly 40 per cent of the 80,000 to 90,000 complaints it receives annually about unwanted phone calls revolve around caller-ID spoofing.

The calls are not just a nuisance.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has estimated Canadians have lost nearly $17 million since 2014 to scam artists who use computer programs to spoof legitimate telephone numbers, including numbers used by the Canada Revenue Agency, Service Canada and even local police.

To convince their intended victims to take their scams seriously, fraudsters use programs to change the number they’re calling from to one that the receiver would trust, such as a friend or legitimate government agency. In some of the more elaborate scams, fraud artists will call the victim from a second number that also appears on a caller ID display as coming from a legitimate source.

Caller ID technology used in today’s phone systems was developed with little consideration that it could be used nefariously and hasn’t changed much, while the technology to exploit it has exploded.

STIR/SHAKEN (“Secure Telephony Information Revisited/Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs”) will enable VOIP service providers to verify whether a caller’s identity can be trusted.

What that will look like on your call display hasn’t been determined, the CRTC said Monday.

It could appear as a check mark or some other indicator that suggests it’s OK to answer a call, officials said. Much depends on how the phone service providers implement the framework.

READ MORE: Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

The framework does not work on landline phones offered by so-called legacy service providers.

But the CRTC said major telecom companies are also expected to meet a Dec. 19 deadline to implement technology that could eliminate calls from scammers by blocking calls with misformed ID numbers such as those starting with a zero or appearing to originate overseas. Telecom service providers have also been exploring ways to trace nuisance calls back to their points of origin so they can be blocked or investigated.

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Protesters blockading log-sort operation at Nanaimo’s Duke Point

Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo demands an end to all old-growth logging in B.C.

Nanaimo’s Jones will draw on her experiences in first political campaign

Retired social worker representing B.C. Liberals in Nanaimo riding in provincial election

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

Shoplifting suspect allegedly spits on worker at store in Nanaimo

Suspect became aggressive when confronted by loss prevention officer at Walmart, say RCMP

Nanaimo’s temporary restaurant patios to stay in place for another year

City council votes to leave patios out for winter and through till fall 2021

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Nanaimo city council wants more info about pilot project to lower residential speed limit

Staff will report back on ministry of transportation pilot that could lower speed limit to 40km/h

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Most Read