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

Local doctor cautions Revelstokians as skatepark reopens

Dr. Bret Batchelor reminds people the pandemic is not yet over

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Revelstoke elementary students write poetry about coronavirus

‘You wish you were free like a black bear’

Tap Truck Okanagan launches as first location in Canada

The business is built on a restored 1957 Chevy panel van and ready to serve craft beer on tap, wine or cider

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read