Call Sign Verification FAQ

Up-coming requirement (last updated Feb 2022):

Starting later this year (2022) all Volunteer Examiners will be required to verify their call sign. Hopefully we can resolve your questions about the process here.

Basic process

The basic process to verify your call sign is to upload the PDF of your official license copy from the ULS. This is seen as proof that you own (or at least have a large amount of control of) that call sign. You also sign a legally binding form when you submit it indicating that you really are the owner of that call sign. While it’s unlikely it would ever have to go to court, falsifying that form would legally constitute Forgery.

Q: Why do I need to verify my call sign?

A: As more people use ExamTools we want to do a little more to ensure that nobody is misrepresenting themselves or using the system as someone that they aren’t. You wouldn’t want someone else to create an account with your call sign, would you? This is our “good faith” effort to solve that problem.

Q: Isn’t this a VEC problem? Why do you care?

A: Actually the VEC has nothing to do with the verification itself. The VEC determines e.g. if KD7BBC can be accredited as a Volunteer Examiner – the intent of this process is to determine if the person who created an account and indicated that their call sign is “KD7BBC” really does own that call sign.

Of course, once your call sign is verified on your user account the software can automatically link any credentials for that call sign which the VEC may tell us about to your account and make them available to you to use, so it simplifies a lot there as well.

Q: I have a paper copy of my license, why can’t I just scan it?

A: We aren’t trying to prove that you have a copy of the license. We aren’t trying to prove that the license is valid, or that it has been issued – all of those things are easily proven by doing a lookup on the ULS. What we want is evidence that you can access the ULS account for that call sign, which is required to download the Official Copy PDF. If it has been modified in any way then we can’t tell if you falsified it.

Q: Why can’t I just upload the Reference Copy?

A: The reference copy doesn’t tell us anything that we can’t find from looking in the ULS ourselves. See the previous question.

Q: Doesn’t it need to be signed to be valid?

A: No, if the document has been modified in any way it no longer serves as evidence that you can access the ULS account for your call sign. See the previous few questions.

Q: Couldn’t someone just as easily make a fake PDF that looks like it?

A: Yes, it’s possible to make a fake; that said, we’ve established a number of digital markers that the FCC leaves that we can look at which have nothing to do with how the document looks and can in most cases tell us if it’s a legitimate document after a very cursory glance. Would it still be possible to fake? Yes, but not easy.

Q: I don’t want to do this, can’t we do it another way?

A: We are totally open to suggestions, but also constrained by time. This is a standard way that many systems use for verifying call sign ownership. If you think you have a better way we welcome the suggestion. Here are the problems it needs to solve:

  • Provide reasonably certain evidence that you have control and ownership of the license which can’t be easily faked by someone with five minutes and a Photoshop-like tool.
  • Not expose any more information than is actually required to the ExamTools system.

Q: I’m still not willing to do this. What are my options?

If with all of that you are still not willing to do it then that is your choice; we will miss you.

Timeline

Q: When will verification become required?

A: Team leads will be required to verify their accounts much sooner than regular VEs. Relatively soon that will be required, but not long after that we’ll go into a phase where all new accounts will be required to verify their call sign to be activated and others are nagged incessantly. We’ll crank the nagging up until most have done it and then warn anyone who still hasn’t done it by email with specific deadlines before we shut anything off.

The rough expectation is that the final “requirement” will not be enforced until at least July 2022, perhaps later – it will depend on how things go.

Still have questions?

If you still have significant concerns you may reach out to us on the Discord server or – if you must – email Richard directly at signalstuff.com.