Caller ID Spoofing

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What is Caller ID spoofing?

Your caller identification (Caller ID) display normally indicates the phone number and name associated with the line used to call you. There are, however, legitimate purposes for altering the Caller ID information provided when placing a call. For example, a call centre that places legitimate calls on behalf of multiple clients may alter the Caller ID information to accurately display their client’s name and telephone number, or a doctor calling to discuss a patient’s lab results may want the hospital’s general call back number to be displayed in the Caller ID in order to direct all future inquiries appropriately.

Unfortunately, illegitimate telemarketers may change the information that appears on the Caller ID display (a practice known as Caller ID spoofing) to misrepresent themselves and to trick Canadians into answering the call. For example:

Is Caller ID spoofing illegal?

Telemarketers who make calls to Canadians are required to accurately identify themselves and their client. Telemarketers who use technology to spoof their Caller ID information with inaccurate, false or misleading information violate this requirement. Each violation of the Unsolicited Telemarketing Rules can lead to fines up to $1,500 per violation for an individual and $15,000 per violation for a corporation.

How do I protect myself from spoofed calls?

What else is the CRTC doing about it?

To better protect Canadians against unwanted and nuisance calls, new measures are being implemented by telecom service providers. For instance, by December 19, 2019, providers must have either implemented a system to block calls within their networks or offer call-filtering services. Canadians should receive fewer unwanted calls thanks to these new safeguards.

For more information, see the Compliance and Enforcement and Telecom Regulatory Policy 2018-484.

Testing a new call traceback process

In accordance with our request, a telecommunications working group is testing a new industry-wide call traceback process. The objective is to identify the origin of unwanted calls on the Canadian network, regardless of the type of technology used by the caller. The end goal is to enforce the Commission’s Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules and protect Canadians against unwanted and nuisance calls.

Caller ID authentication and verification measure

We asked telecommunications service providers to implement, by September 2020, the STIR/SHAKEN framework which is a caller ID authentication and verification measure. It aims to certify the extent to which a given caller’s identity can be trusted. This will empower Canadians to determine which calls are authenticated, thus reducing the frequency and impact of caller ID spoofing on consumers.

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