Bridal salon a victim of apparent phone spoofing

The owner of an Ottawa bridal salon says hundreds of spoof phone calls are being made from her business line.

Bell Canada says phone spoofing is extremely difficult to stop

'It’s frustrating us, but it’s also disturbing people’s lives,' said Chantal Larocque, co-owner of the bridal store. (Stu Mills/CBC)

The phone has been ringing off the hook at All That Glitters Bridal Salon for the past week — but most of the calls aren't welcome.

Since last Tuesday, the dress shop has been getting between 50 and 100 calls each day from people who are complaining about repeated, unwanted calls coming from the All That Glitters Bridal Salon phone number.

Chantal Larocque, who co-owns the store with her mother, said nobody at the store has been making those calls.

"It's frustrating us, but it's also disturbing people's lives," said Larocque.

Larocque appears to be a victim of phone spoofing. That's when scammers use software to hide their real identities by showing a fake telephone number on the display. It's used to make people think the call is from a reputable business.

Random people around the Ottawa area have been getting ghost calls from Larocque's business phone number, but without a voice on the line.

'One gentleman screamed at us'

Some recipients of the repeated calls from the All That Glitters Bridal Salon line take their frustration out on her.

"One gentleman screamed at us," said Larocque.

Last week, a woman phoned the shop and begged them to stop calling and another woman said she had a terminal form of cancer and the phone call had woken her, Larocque said.

She said Bell Canada, who owns the line, told her the telephone company is unable to make the calls stop and the only solution is to get a new number.

"They haven't been sympathetic," said Larocque. "They had no interest in compensating us to change the number."

Phone spoofing a global issue

Larocque is hoping she doesn't have to change her phone number.

That's because women shopping for bridal gowns may pick up the shop's promotional material months before they actually make the call to arrange a fitting or purchase a wedding dress.

If the shop's phone number is changed, the bride may just assume the store has closed, she said.

The expense of changing the number on bills and business cards combined with the losses represented by investments in advertising could add up to $3,000, Larocque estimates.

In a statement provided to CBC News, Bell Canada said phone spoofing is a global issue that affects all service providers, one that has been extremely difficult to stop.

"We continue to work with industry partners here in Canada and worldwide as well as the CRTC to develop technological solutions to combat this illegal activity," wrote Bell Canada spokesperson Jacqueline Michelis.

The calls seemed to have stopped on Friday, Larocque said, but without any guarantee that they wouldn't start up again.