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Canada Telecom Regulator Seeks Solution for Telemarketing Call 'Spoofing'

July 29, 2015
By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Telemarketing Software Contributor

Telemarketing legislation, like IT security, is something that can never sleep. It takes a long time for legislators to craft, pass and implement legislation that protects customers from abusive and sneaky practices. It takes abusive and sneaky law-breakers a few days to get around the restrictions. In Canada (as in the U.S.), companies that engage in illegal telemarketing often prevent authorities from finding them by “spoofing” caller ID information: that is, masking the call’s true origins and causing an incorrect number (or no number at all) to pop up on the called party’s caller I.D. unit. Masking the caller’s true origins also helps shady organizations skirt a country’s “do not call” registry. Canada’s do not call registry has added over 12 million names since its inception in 2008.

Canada’s federal telecommunications regulator, CRTC, is taking on the practice of telemarketing spoofing, and it’s planning to crowd-source a solution. (Much the way the U.S. FCC (News - Alert) crowd-sourced a solution for robocalling in 2013.) The CRTC began a public consultation this week in an effort to uncover “new and innovative solutions” to block unsolicited telemarketing calls and scams, according to the Globe and Mail.

“In particular, the CRTC is hunting for answers to systems that use caller ID spoofing and display false telephone numbers, in some cases appropriating legitimate numbers that belong to businesses or households,” wrote the Globe and Mail’s James Bradshaw. “Spoofing circumvents the Do Not Call List and helps offending callers avoid being punished with fines.”

Illegal telemarketing calls are one of the biggest complaints the CRTC receives. Since the launch of the do not call registry seven years ago, Canadians have lodged 900,000 complaints of alleged breaches of the rules to the CRTC.  About 40 percent of these complaints involved spoofing. While the agency has handed out $6.2 million in fines to law-breakers, it hasn’t stemmed the tide of spoofing.

The CRTC says it’s hoping the nation’s telecommunications service providers can offer a solution to spoofing. The agency has asked telecom companies to provide a summary of current options and features to block such calls by September 4th. It will then open the topic to public comment until October 16th.

“Canadians are very frustrated with telemarketers who hide their identity or misappropriate the legitimate numbers of Canadians and businesses,” said CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais in a statement. “Following this consultation, we will be publishing guidance material to empower Canadians to make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

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