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When will the phone scams end?

I have to admit, February 7th 2020 will be the day silence came to our home. Not in the usual ways you may think. Today is the first day in 38 years that my land line will no longer ring; we have cancelled our home phone.

I have to admit, February 7, 2020 will be the day silence came to our home. Not in the usual ways you may think. Today is the first day in 38 years that my land line will no longer ring.

We have cancelled our home phone.

We have been very reluctant to drop our land line. We still felt it necessary for security in a world of wireless networks. Unfortunately it has turned into a device for those in society who prey on the good/trusting nature of all Canadians.

The final straw was a phone call on Monday, Feb. 3 at 6:59 a.m. with a recorded message from a number with a 604 area code. The message informed me (or anyone who answered the phone) that there were fraudulent charges made to my VISA account. We don’t use VISA but I waited on the line anyway to tell the fraudster what I thought of him/her and then hung up. We could no longer take the relentless calls anymore and I cancelled my land line service.

Leading up to this decision I had received calls where my name has appeared in the caller ID area of incoming calls, how could I be calling myself? I have received calls from members of the community saying I had called them with fraudulent intentions, apparently my name and number had shown up on their call display.

I did contact my communications provider on a number of occasions to lodge complaints about this. On one occasion the provider’s representative seemed shocked that this sort of thing was happening. On another occasion the communications provider’s representative explained how these fraudsters use “random dialling” technology in the hope someone answers and then offered to change my phone number. I was not sure how changing my phone number would help in this case. In the end I spoke with a manager representative with my communications provider who said these scams are very sophisticated and when progress is made to eliminate the threat other technology appears. Really? Although he was sympathetic he did not make me feel confident my communications provider was doing everything necessary to eliminate this activity within their telephone network, so we have cancelled our home phone.

This threat to Canadians is not new and has been around for quite some time. In 2018 Canadians lost more than five million dollars alone to the phone and email versions of the CRA scam. (1) Canadians only report about 5 per cent of all mass marketing fraud so the total amount Canadians are being defrauded from is staggering. (2) Canadian communications companies need to do more to prevent this fraud. The CRTC needs to hold communications companies responsible for allowing fraudulent activities to occur on their networks and infrastructure.

In my mind, communications providers have some culpability and responsibility for restitution to those that have lost money to these scams. Kind of like the getaway driver in the bank heist, the driver didn’t rob the bank but they knew it was happening and profited from the result. As consumers we are being charged for a service that is not safe and secure. Communications companies are profiting from consumers who are being defrauded while using their services. In essence what appears to be happening is communications providers seem to think they are the getaway car in the robbery, manipulated by others and not responsible in any way.

In 2018 the communications provider I was using had annual operating revenue of $14.37 billion, (3) gross profits of $5.961 billion and net profits of $1.234 billion. (4) Surely my communications provider could have used a little of that profit along with the other Canadian communications service providers to eliminate this growing threat to Canadians.

I would love to hear from others who have the same opinion as I. You can call me at … no wait I don’t have a phone anymore … and I’m not giving out my cell number.

- Michael Buxton