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[May-20-14]

Long Distance Fraud. Protect your voicemail

Fraud cases involving business voicemail equipment have been reported latelay. These are experienced criminals who are able to access business voicemail equipment illegally and make long distance calls from these systems.

A worldwide phenomenon

Numerous businesses and phone companies around the world have recently been targets of this type of fraud.  In most cases, the fraudsters call a business after-hours and use a variety of automated and manual techniques to find the passwords that protect access to the voicemail equipment. If you have not changed the manufacturer's default passwords, or if they are easy to guess (such as 1234 or 1111), it is relatively simple for these criminals to access your voicemail system. Long-distance calls can then be placed from the system, with the applicable charges resulting.

Take appropriate measures to safeguard your system

Today's sophisticated voicemail systems are equipped with security features to prevent this type of fraud. However, like the locks on your car or home, they must be used properly to be effective. Here is what you can do to better protect your company :

  • Make sure your employees change the manufacturer’s default password immediately upon being assigned a voicemail box, and are trained to change the password frequently thereafter.
  • Program your voicemail system to require passwords with a minimum of 6 characters (8 is preferable - the more complex the password, the more difficult it is to guess)
  • Train your employees not to use easily-guessed passwords such as their phone number, extension number, or simple number combinations.
  • When assigning a voicemail box to a new employee, never make the temporary password the employee's telephone number.
  • Program your voicemail system to force users to change their password at least every 90 days.
  • Determine whether the through-dialling feature is needed, and if not, have it disabled. Through-dialling allows you to make long distance calls through your mailbox when you are at an offsite location.  If this feature is used, it is important that you generate and monitor through-dialling reports to ensure your mailboxes are not being abused.
  • Remove all unassigned mailboxes.

The above security measures are of a general nature and might not protect every aspect of an individual telephone system, but they will help make you less vulnerable to this type of fraud. 

Remember that you are responsible for paying for all calls originating from, and charged calls accepted at, your telephone, regardless of who made or accepted them.

If you have general questions about voicemail equipment protection, we encourage you to contact your advisor or call our business customer service at 1-800-360-8555.

Have you been targeted?

If you suspect that you have been a target of criminal activity, it is your responsibility to contact the local authorities immediately. We will be pleased to cooperate with you and, if applicable, assist in a formal criminal investigation, with your consent and at the request of the local authorities.