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12.13.17 / blog

Putting a Stop to Phone Scammers

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Every year there seems to be a new phone scam aimed at taking money from unsuspecting, often vulnerable, people. For the last several years, the CRA scam has been making the rounds, but there are countless others that are featured less prominently in the news. Through our customer support center, we’ve probably been asked about all of them, and while we don’t have all the answers, hopefully we can shed some light on some the most frequently asked questions.

Who’s Calling Me?

That’s the big question, and unfortunately, one we can’t answer. With most phone scams, the number used to make the call has been assigned to a reseller. Meaning, that it was purchased from us and then sold to someone else whose information we can’t access. In other cases, the number may be “spoofed,” so what you see on your display isn’t actually where the call originated. These calls may not even be routed through our network, or made from within Canada.

Can’t You Just Block the Number?

Assuming we knew where the call was coming from, unfortunately it still wouldn’t be that simple. There are countless laws and regulations that prevent us from blocking or disabling a number, or even providing information about who a number was assigned to. For example, regulations require that we notify a customer before suspending service. Scammers change numbers so quickly, that as soon as the process begins, they’re operating under a new one. It’s like playing whack-a-mole – as soon as you get one, a new one pops up.

With that said, if we could, we would. In addition to the millions of dollars taken from innocent Canadians, telephone frauds cost Iristel thousands of dollars every year in support costs; the CRA scam is the number one reason for calls to our abuse and security hotline.

Is There Any Way I Can Block the Number?

You can call your personal telephone provider and ask them to block the number. Likewise, if you are an Iristel customer, we will gladly block the number for you, and provide you with self-serve tools that allow you to manage your account. Please keep in mind that if the number is spoofed we may not be able to help. The difference is that because it only affects you personally, it doesn’t violate the same laws and regulation that prevent us from universally blocking the caller.

What is Iristel Doing?

We work with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) to help prevent and disrupt phone scams. In 2016, we received over 200 requests from the CAFC, who has the authority to obtain information from resellers and investigate criminal activity.

What Should I Do if I Receive a Call?

The safest thing to do is hang up immediately. Don’t engage with the caller, and never give out personal or financial information over the phone. If you are the victim of a phone scam or suspect that you were targeted, please do one of the following:

Otherwise, the best way to stop a scam is to spread awareness. Tell your family, friends and neighbours.

This isn’t something that will go away overnight, but if you still have any questions or concerns, please email us at feedback@iristel.com and we will be glad to help in any way we can.