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

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

Nelson hospice starts Walk and Talk group in Lakeside Park

The Walk and Talk Grief Group is offered free to anyone grieving the death of a loved one

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Most Read