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T-Mobile and AT&T Pay Fines Over Unsecured Voicemail Systems

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A company in New Jersey, USA that provided customers unauthorized access to the cell phone voicemails of others through a software program called "SpoofCard" and two mobile phone network operators, AT&T and T Mobile have agreed to permanent injunctions banning misrepresentations of cell phone security and the legality of the "spoofing" system.

The civil actions, filed with the accompanying stipulated judgments agreed to by the three companies, culminated an investigation by the District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation that began last year after a customer complained of unauthorized cell phone voicemail access.

"These cases illustrate how deeply new technology and misuse of it can affect the lives of consumers," said District Attorney Steve Cooley in a written statement. "The software program that was advertised as €˜legal in 50 states' was not legal in California and some other states.

"Our investigators found that cellular providers who claimed their systems were safe from such sabotage were wrong," he added. "Cell phones purchased by undercover investigators were easily hacked into, enabling the voicemail to be changed at will by use of the spoofing system."

"Hacking into voicemail allowed messages to be changed or erased. Important information could be removed from the voicemail and phony information could be inserted. Imagine the havoc that could result," Cooley added.

The civil actions were settled without admissions of wrongdoing by the parties, said Deputy District Attorney Thomas R. Wenke of the Consumer Protection Division, who handled the cases against TelTech Systems, doing business as SpoofCard, Love Detect and Liar Card; AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA.

Wenke said the TelTech injunction prohibits misrepresentations about the legality of the use of TelTech technology. The AT&T and T-Mobile injunctions ban the firms from making specified misrepresentations about the security of their cell phone systems.

TelTech agreed to pay a total of $33,000 as investigation costs and civil penalties. AT&T agreed to pay a total of $59,300 and T-Mobile to $25,000. Investigators from both the District Attorney's Consumer Protection and High Tech Crime divisions worked on the cases.

Wenke said the firms and their attorneys were cooperative in reaching a "mutually agreeable resolution" to the civil actions. Each of the firms has taken corrective action, he added.

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Tags: t-mobile  voicemail  california  cell phone