Phone based fraud has been a growing problem in Canada, affecting most large telecommunications carriers. UBC has also been impacted by this trend, with fraudulent calls (also known as spam or spoofed phone calls) targeting phone numbers in the university’s 604-822-XXXX and 604-827-XXXX ranges.
How to identify a fraudulent phone call
Fraudsters generally employ a practice called "Caller ID spoofing", which causes the phone call to appear on your caller ID as if it is coming from a legitimate source. At UBC, spoofing is used to make the call seem to be from another 604-822-XXXX or 604-827-XXXX number. In other words, it seems as though the call is originating from another UBC phone.
Once the phone has been answered, the most common fraud campaign or spam phone call will usually go as follows:
- The person answering the phone will hear a message indicating that they have won a prize from a major corporation, like a national airline. They will be prompted to press “1” to accept.
- They will be connected to a live operator to assist with claiming “the prize.”
- The operator will attempt to gather financial and/or other personal data from the person who answered the call.
It is critical to disconnect from the call as soon as you become suspicious; personal or financial information should not be shared with an unverified party. Providing your personal or financial information during one of these calls can result in identity theft and/or financial loss.
What does a fraudulent phone call look like?
If someone is using a UBC telephone, nearly all calls originating within UBC (Vancouver and Okanagan) will provide a 5-digit caller ID in the format of 2-XXXX or 7-XXXX. Incoming calls with a caller ID in the format of 604-822-XXXX or 604-827-XXXX are likely originating from off-campus and are likely not legitimate.
If you answer your phone and suspect that the call is not legitimate, ask the caller for their name and a callback number and place a return call to them.Always validate the identity of the caller before providing any personal or financial information.
Shouldn't this be illegal?
Fraud is illegal, but there is no legislation specifically governing the use of caller ID in Canada. In other jurisdictions, such as the United States, caller ID spoofing for malicious or fraudulent purposes is illegal and can result in large fines. Canada does not currently have similar legislation.
What is UBC IT doing to stop these calls?
Technology limitations prevent telecommunications providers from blocking these fraudulent calls before they reach UBC. However, as part of UBC IT’s scheduled IT infrastructure refresh, the gateways linking UBC’s phone system to the public telephone network will be replaced within the next 6 months. UBC IT plans to implement new gateways that have the ability to block inbound calls based on Caller ID, rejecting calls that claim to be from a 604-822-XXXX or 604-827-XXXX number.
How to report a fraudulent phone call
If you have inadvertently provided personal or financial information during one of these campaigns, or if you have otherwise been targeted by fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.