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Canada’s ‘universal call blocking’ system seen as partial answer to big nuisance

CRTC estimates 40 per cent of complaints about unwanted calls involve caller-ID spoofin

Thursday marks the official arrival of a system to block some types of nuisance calls, although even its supporters have said it offers only a partial solution to a complex problem facing Canadians.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has said it receives 80,000 to 90,000 complaints annually about unwanted phone calls.

It gave carriers until Dec. 19 to put in place “universal call blocking” or an equivalent system at the network level to stop blatantly spoofed numbers such as 000-000-0000.

But the CRTC estimates 40 per cent of complaints about unwanted calls involve caller-ID spoofing, some of which will evade universal call blocking by using more sophisticated tricks to pretend to be from legitimate callers.

One well-known scam, for instance, uses apparently legitimate phone numbers to make threatening calls supposedly from police or tax officials.

Among other things, the CRTC wants carriers to put in place a system for tracing the origin of spam calls — and has given them until March 2020 to present a report of the traceback system.

The regulator also wants Canadian carriers to adopt a new framework used in parts of the United States, known by the acronym STIR/SHAKEN, to let customers with mobile or Internet Protocol phones gauge the trustworthiness of calls.

The CRTC has set Sept. 30, 2020, as its target for having STIR/SHAKEN in place.

In the meantime, the regulator urges consumers to file complaints to Canada’s do not call list at lnnte-dncl.gc.ca or 1-866-580-DNCL (3625) or 1-888-DNCL-TTY (362-5889) for the hearing impaired.

The Canadian Press

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