We are noticing that phone hacking, also known as, “phreaking”, seems to be on the rise. The problem is costing local area businesses thousands of dollars in fraudulent phone calls.
“We have received an unusual number of calls in the last few weeks from clients seeking our assistance with excessively high long distance bills.” said Doug Flugum, owner of Tektivity.
Here’s how it works. The phreaker calls your business after hours. They then find a vulnerable feature in your phone system that allows them to access an outside line and make costly international long distance calls, racking up thousands of dollars on your phone bill before you know it.
In one extreme case that occurred at a Hiawatha business, several years ago, the phreaker hacked into a phone system and dialed 911. In the Hiawatha case, the phreakers had the sound track of a violent video game running in the back ground and reported that the business was under attack. 911 then alerted local S.W.A.T. teams who appeared at the business much to the surprise of workers.
“Phreaking can be minimized by removing or replacing vulnerable features on your phone system.” says Flugum. “Whether it is hacking into a computer network or phone system, this criminal element is always finding new ways to exploit the public. A regular check-up of all your technology is probably the best way minimize exposure.”
A financial remedy is also available from some long distance carriers who offer fraud protection. This protection may reimburse some or all of the obviously fraudulent charges. Make sure your long distance carrier offers this type of protection and that it is added to your service.
Tektivity contacted the Iowa Attorney General’s Office who provided this statement:
“Over the years our Consumer Protection Division has received a very small number of phone hacking complaints. It is a criminal offense, and a criminal who hacks into a phone system and then uses the information to make calls or enable others to do so is likely committing a federal offense. For that reason, most victims would probably report the crime to their local law enforcement agency or perhaps the FBI before they would contact our office… We think you are providing a valuable service to the community by making people aware of the crime, and we support your public awareness efforts. ”