Caller ID Spoofing
On this page
- What is Caller ID spoofing?
- Is Caller ID spoofing illegal?
- How do I protect myself from spoofed calls?
- What else is the CRTC doing about it?
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:
- The Caller ID may be altered to match the first 6-digits of your telephone number so that it looks like a local call, perhaps from a neighbour in your area, also known as ‘neighbouring.’
- The Caller ID may display your own telephone number, also known as ‘mirroring.’
- The Caller ID may display the number of another individual and/or organization (i.e., pose as a recognizable brand).
- The Caller ID may be altered to represent a number that cannot be dialed within the telephone network (e.g. 123-456-7890, 999-999-9999, etc.)
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?
- Register your telephone number on the National Do Not Call List
File a complaint about a telemarketing call
Note: If you suspect fraud, you can report it to your local police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501), a national service jointly operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Competition Bureau.
- Check out the CRTC’s Telemarketing Consumer Alerts to help you identify spoofed calls.
- Exercise caution if you are asked to provide personal information (e.g., banking information, password). When in doubt, hang up and call the number on your account statement or the organization’s website.
Certain calling options or features may be available to you to block or filter unsolicited and illegitimate telemarketing calls.
Note: The CRTC asked telecommunications service providers and other parties to provide information on the calling options and features available to help Canadians protect themselves from these calls, and has published a summary of their responses. As a result of a recent public consultation(see below), the CRTC will determine what further measures are required to protect the privacy of Canadians and to prevent undue inconvenience or nuisance resulting from telemarketing 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 30 November 2021, 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.
- Compliance and Enforcement and Telecom Decision CRTC 2019-215
- Status of implementation by telecommunications service providers of authentication/verification measures for caller identification
- Call blocking comes into force: Canadians to have more protection against nuisance calls
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