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Rep. Israel Wants FCC To Require Cell Carriers To Have Password Protected Voicemail

Rep. Steve Israel (left) holds cell phone used in hacking demonstration at his Hauppauge, NY office on Monday, June 4, 2012 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Rep. Steve Israel (left) holds cell phone used in hacking demonstration at his Hauppauge, NY office on Monday, June 4, 2012 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

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HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Officials on Long Island are warning cell phone users about new technology that could be used to hack into a phone’s voicemail and gain access to private information.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports


Rep. Steve Israel is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to make password-protected voicemail a standard feature for all carriers.

At a news conference Monday, Israel demonstrated how hackers can go to a “spoofing” site, enter a cell phone number and gain access to that number’s voice messages.

The “spoofing” site makes an incoming call seem like it’s coming from a different number than where the call actually originated.

“You may not realize it, but any teenager could hack into your phone as could someone with more pernicious intentions,” Israel said.

Parul P. Desai, the communications policy counsel for the Consumers Union, agreed that more protection is needed.

“Standardized voicemail password protection is key to securing access to private voicemail,” said Desai. “Unfortunately, wireless carrier practices vary across the industry and too often, consumers have to navigate through confusing contracts to understand the privacy settings available to them. Consumers deserve more straightforward, accessible privacy information from wireless companies to better protect themselves from ‘spoofing.’”

Police also advised that cell phone users protect their privacy by enabling or creating a passwords for their voicemail account.

“Any initiatives that require the use of passwords to protect personal voicemail messages would help to protect the privacy of our residents and prevent criminal activity,” said Capt. Ken Bombace of the Suffolk County Police Department.

Israel said Sprint and T-Mobile are especially vulnerable to these hacking sites because they don’t require passwords to access voicemail. He said Verizon and AT&T are the only wireless providers that currently require passwords.

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