Ruth Mitchell

North East companies warned of fraud

A Teesside-based ‘ethical hacker’ is warning businesses in the region to be aware of an increase in telephone system fraud capable of ruining firms if it remains unnoticed.

Jonathan Wheatley, managing director of MC Ware in Stokesley, has seen an increase in the problem, which can cost businesses thousands of pounds and even bankrupt them.

Telephone system fraud happens when people or machines dial telephone numbers at night and tap into private telephone system settings. From there, they can then use the telephone lines all night, usually dialling premium rate numbers.

Business owners have a duty to protect their telephone lines and are responsible for all bills – so such telephone system fraud could ruin a company if not dealt with swiftly.

Jonathan said: “It is certainly a dangerous and growing trend amongst businesses, both large and small. Now is the time to think about protecting yourself and ensuring you have control over your business communications regardless of the time of day or where you are in the world.”

To help protect against potential fraud, Jonathan’s suggests three initial actions:

If you think you are under attack, then try calling the office out of hours and if the lines are constantly engaged you have a problem. Until you stop the problem unplug all of your lines each night.

Ask your provider to block premium rate numbers and calls to countries other than those you specify.

Change the default passwords on your phone system.

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