Friday, December 26, 2014


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Northern NY

Victim of international phone scam speaks out

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Victim of international phone scam speaks out
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Many of us just learned this week about a phone hacking scam targeting businesses.
Monday, State leaders came to town to push the phone industry to do more to protect victims. Now, we're hearing first hand from a Liverpool business that's been dealing with aftermath of a similar scam since November. Our Iris St. Meran speaks with the president of Nova Tours and Travel about how he found out he was a victim and what he's doing to fix this $90,000 problem.

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. -- At Nova Tours and Travel, making and taking long distance calls is part of the job requirement for booking trips for various groups. It wasn't until the staff could not make these calls that President Tim Bronchetti contacted his phone company.

"Then they informed me that I had a $91,000 phone bill. At that point they said there must be some fraudulent charges going on and turned it over to the fraud department," said Bronchetti.

His monthly average for phones and fax machines is about $500. Bronchetti says the calls were made to locations overseas, including Africa. This week, Senator Schumer was in Syracuse warning of this same type of scam.

"Dozens of New York businesses have fallen prey to these hackers. They're forced to cover the cost for weeks worth of oversees calls," said Schumer.

Aside from the actual bill, Bronchetti says this biggest challenge has been the amount of time put in to try to rectify the situation.

"I would say at least 30 hours putting together the information they requested of the bills and who does our phone service and contacting them,” Bronchetti said. “Getting letters written, putting together the charges."

It's still under investigation, but at this point, the phone company isn't holding Bronchetti responsible for the bill. In the future, he hopes he would be notified of suspicious activity on his account, but he's making sure his system is secure.

To protect yourself, here are some tips:

  • You should change your password from the default password

  • Make it complex with at least six digits

  • Change them frequently

  • Block international calls when possible.

This has been an expensive learning experience at Nova Tours and Travel, but they're thankful to be back in business.

Even by taking the necessary precautions, businesses could still be hacked. If you notice suspicious activity, call your phone company and police.

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