Phone hacking scams cost UK businesses £1bn

Phone hacking scams cost UK businesses £1bn

International fraudsters are beginning to target UK businesses through a complex phone hacking scam, according to Channel 4.

The hackers are using war-dialling software, which targets the phone exchange of an organisation, and are running up bills in excess of £1 billion across the UK.

It aims to find an out-of-use phone extension that can be used to crack any passwords or security measures, before accessing a firm's voicemail.

Having hacked into the voicemail, the thieves force the phone to dial an international premium rate number (IPRN).

Every time the hackers' premium rate number is dialled, they make money; and with calls costing anywhere up to £10 a call, it can be very costly for the business that has been affected.

One high profile victim, uncovered by Channel 4, was Hambleton District Council in North Yorkshire, which was attacked over the Christmas period.

Over Christmas Day and Boxing Day, while many of the council's staff were on holiday, the phone exchange was forced to make hundreds of unauthorised calls to IPRNs.

Councillor Brian Phillips of Hambleton District Council revealed that the bill for the unauthorised calls were £30,000.