Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Phreaking Bell...

There this thing that's been talked about a lot, lately, called "Phreaking". Basically, it's a kind of hacking, where someone taps into a voice-mail system, and in the space of a few minutes, places hour-long phone calls to countries all over the world. This is happening to homes and businesses all over Ontario, with bills thousands of dollars (the highest that I know of is $220,000). But here's the best part, if you happen to be a Bell customer: it knows for a fact that this fraud is happening, and that it's definitely not being done by the owners of the phone line, but those customers are still on the hook for that money.

I swear, only in business law could something that stupid happen. Imagine, if you will, a scenario like this: someone breaks into your house, steals your wallet and I.D., and before leaving, kills someone on your property. All the while, there are eyewitnesses and documents proving that you were nowhere near your house at the time. However, by Bell's logic, you could still be charged with that murder. Where the hell does that make any sense?

Making it even better -- and I use the term loosely -- is that Bell recently took out a full page ad in the newspapers, warning its customers about the phreaking problem, but also stating that company policy is to hold customers responsible for all activity on the phone line. That's quite an effort to say "Sucks to be you." Evidently, this company doesn't believe in efficiency, much more than it believes in ethics, customer service, or public relations. Oh by the way, isn't it against the law to profit from a crime?

Right about now, you're probably asking what can be done about it. Well, if this has already happened to you, that's a really good question; a class action lawsuit against Bell is in the works, but since Canada's telecommunications authority -- conveniently -- has no jurisdiction on long-distance calls, and our federal government is refusing to get involved at the moment, I have no idea how far such a lawsuit can go. Now, if you haven't had this happen to you, but you own a voice-mail system, the general suggestion is to change your password as often as possible, and make it a fairly long and complex one. I would also like to add another suggestion: don't buy anything from Bell! That's enough from me.

No comments: