I have been hearing more and more instances of this happening. A business will get a phone call from their local telephone provider informing them that several thousand dollars of international calls were made from the telephone lines at their place of business over the weekend. Of course no one was even in the office over the weekend, so how did this happen? The answer is simple, a thief with a little bit of knowledge about telephone systems and voice mails was able to gain access to one of your voice mail mailboxes and set it up to dial whatever phone number he or she desired.
The first thing you should do if this happens to you is to call the police and file a services theft report. Once this report has been filed, you may be able to convince the phone company to forgive most of the charges. The next step is to call your phone system vendor and have them figure out how this happened and what steps to take to prevent it from happening again.
Preventing this theft of services from happening in the first place is, of course, the best plan of action. Several methods are available that will reduce your chances of this happening. First and foremost, is to have every user on your phone system change the default pass code in their mailbox. I often hear office managers say they don’t want their people to change the pass code. After a little questioning I discover the reason for this is in case that employee leaves the company. In most cases resetting a user’s voicemail pass code is a fairly simple process that an office manager can do. My advice would be to ask the service technician to teach you how to do this when they are installing your system.
In addition to changing pass codes, additional steps can be taken with the phone system to prevent this problem. Most phone systems will allow you to deny all trunk to trunk transfers. Additionally most systems will allow you to block all voice mail ports from being able to make an out bound call. However this type of security could potentially cause a problem for a business. One would need to evaluate the need for calls coming into the phone system to have the ability to dial an external phone number. Most commonly this feature is used to transfer calls to an employee’s cell phone or allow the voicemail to notify someone of a message. If you do not need to use these features, have them restricted.
Your telephone company can also add some protection on your lines for you. Account codes are a very good way to prevent toll fraud. When you choose to use account codes the telephone company will provide you with several codes that would be required to allow a long distance call to be completed. Typically you assign one code per person. This could become a bit of a nuisance for some one that makes a lot of long distance phone calls, but the security and tracking it allows is great.
If you have any concerns about toll fraud contact your telephone system vendor and your telephone company for more details.