'Caller ID Spoofing' is an annoying twist on unwanted telemarketing

Some Islanders say the number of unwanted calls from telemarketers has risen sharply this summer. Caller ID Spoofing adds to the frustration.

No caller ID — or made-up numbers — make unwanted calls hard to block

The CRTC has asked Canada's phone companies to develop new technology to deal with the problem of 'Caller ID Spoofing.' (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Some Island seniors say they're dealing with a big increase in recent weeks in annoying robo-calls and, more troubling, callers looking for personal credit-card information.

"They kind of keep quiet about it, but we often hear that they're troubled about phone calls," said Don Sanderson, president, P.E.I. Seniors Federation. 

In recent days, CBC News has heard from a number of Island seniors on the problem.

One woman in Kensington, P.E.I., says she had 20 calls over a four-hour period one day last week.

Another woman in Charlottetown says her voice mail box was getting full every day with the calls, so she's decided to discontinue her voice-mail service.

"Just hang up is what we recommend to do," said Sanderson, "Hang up, because it's usually some kind of a scam."

'Caller ID Spoofing' is against the law

Seniors say many of the nuisance calls display no phone number, or a made-up number, making it impossible to have calls blocked by the phone company.

Canada's phone industry regulator — the CRTC — calls the practice Caller ID Spoofing, and it's a violation of Canada's telemarketing laws.

The woman in Charlottetown told CBC News one of the unwanted calls she received appeared to come from a phone number in Murray River, P.E.I. When CBC News called the number, the person who answered said she was unaware her number had been used by a telemarketer.

The CRTC has asked Canada's phone companies to develop new technology to deal with Caller ID Spoofing.

The CRTC also says people troubled by unwanted calls should get their phone number registered on the National Do Not Call List. Telemarketing companies are required by law to delete the listed phoned numbers from the calls they make. Some telemarketers, however, are exempt, including registered charities, polling firms and political parties.

Anyone who thinks they may be the victim of a phone scam should contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

The P.E.I. Seniors Federation hosts events at local seniors clubs to warn and educate members about aggressive telemarketing.