CRTC urges Canadian telecoms to do more to fight scammers

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This week Canada’s telecom regulator adopted a new weapon in the fight against phone scammers, calling on Canadian telecom companies to adopt a new technology that would make it easier to verify the origins of a call.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is giving companies until Sept 30, 2020, to adopt STIR/SHAKEN (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited/Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using Tokens) technology.

Once that technology is adopted, it will allow users to view if the origins of calls they receive via a mobile phone or a voice over IP systems has been verified.

While the new technology won’t block calls from scammers or eliminate the problem, CRTC officials say it is one more tool in the fight against unwanted phone calls.

“Nuisance calls are a major irritant for many Canadians,” he said in a statement. “We are committed to addressing this issue and are working with the industry and our partners to better protect consumers.

“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.”

In the past few years Canadians have been scammed and plagued by scamsters, some of them purporting to be government officials or police officers. When the person targeted checks their call display, the scammers have often spoofed the call to make it look like it is coming from the real government agency or police department.

Police say one version of the scam, in which callers pose as officials from the Canada Revenue Agency, has defrauded Canadians of more than $16.7 million since 2014.

Canada’s major telecom companies are on track to meet a December 19 deadline to implement technology that could eliminate many calls from scammers by blocking calls with misformed ID numbers. The CRTC is also working with telecom providers on ways to trace nuisance calls back to their point of origin.

CRTC officials say 40 per cent of the complaints the CRTC receives about unwanted calls are about spoofing. -CINEWS

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