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

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

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Economists “cautiously hopeful” for economic recovery in Alberta

Charles St. Arnaud says Alberta’s recovery will rebound along with roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Kiara Robillard is seen in an undated handout photo. When the pandemic began, Robillard had to rush back home to Alberta from California, where she had been living for five years, after she was struck by a truck that broke her spine in two places. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiara Robillard, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A decommissioned pumpjack is shown at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending all of the licences held by an oil and gas producer with more than 2,200 wells and 2,100 pipelines after it failed to bring its operations into compliance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination

Most Read