CRTC to crack down on phone scammers

Marco Green
December 10, 2019

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced Monday that it's asking telecom service providers to introduce new technology by September 30, 2020, that aims to tackle what is known as caller ID spoofing.

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

Canada's telecom regulator wants phone companies to use new technology to crack down on scam calls.

IAN Scott, Chairperson and CEO of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Ajit Pai, Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday in a joint statement said: "Spoofed, scam robocalls are an worldwide problem".

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

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

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.

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

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.

Scott and Pai said: "This call between the chairs of the FCC and CRTC demonstrates our joint commitment to the fight against spoofed calls and our focus on protecting Canadian and American consumers. The timely implementation of STIR / SHAKEN will enhance the security of American and Canadian consumers and give them the peace of mind they demand and deserve when the phone rings".

The framework does not work on landline phones offered by so-called legacy service providers. The CRTC is also working with the industry to develop a trace-back program that will identify where a nuisance call is coming from.

A spokesperson for Bell said the company has also applied to the CRTC to conduct a 90-day trial of customized call-blocking technology.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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