Don’t pick up the phone

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Your phone rings, you pick it up, and within 0.01 seconds, you realize it’s a scammer. You hang up and swear off answering calls for good. 

Turns out the same thing is happening to most of us.

Driving the news: Nearly half of Canadians have been targeted by a scam attempt recently, per a new TransUnion report, and the most commonly reported type of scam was “vishing,” which you might know better as “those scam phone calls I get at every waking hour.” 

  • Reports of vishing were up 3% last quarter from the previous one. Meanwhile, the overall rate of digital fraud in Canada was up 1.3% year-over-year. 

Catch-up: Scam phone calls have been a growing problem for years now. In 2021, the CRTC—Canada’s federal telecoms regulator—tried to combat them by mandating service providers implement a system called STIR/SHAKEN that detects altered phone numbers. 

Yes, but: As you’ve probably noticed, their efforts haven’t achieved much. The number of scam calls hasn’t dropped as some providers don’t have the tech capabilities to implement the system, scammers have found ways to work around it, and the system doesn’t actually stop scam calls from coming through; it just identifies them. 

  • "To be honest, it's a global problem,” CRTC director of telecommunications enforcement Alain Garneau told CBC, “...there's no silver bullet [to the issue].” 

Why it matters: While folks certainly are susceptible to fraud—collectively, Canadians lost a reported $283.5 million to fraud in the first half of the year—most people do recognize scam calls for what they are. The real issue is that these calls are so incessant that people are simply refusing to pick up their phones, rendering what was once a pretty handy technology essentially useless.—QH