Friday, August 15, 2003
Hijacked phone creates nightmare for Carlisle business
Bob Kvietkauskas's "nightmare scenario" began when he walked into the Carlisle Insurance Brokerage office on Monday morning, July 14, and listened to his telephone messages. One of them got his attention: it was from AT&T about the many calls made on his phone line between the previous Sunday and early Monday morning to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Yemen. One call, to Saudi Arabia, was over seven hours long. None of the calls was made by or authorized by Kvietkauskas and the AT&T bill he has received for them totals $2,647. An MCI representative told him someone had probably hacked into his computer system to make the calls.
What was particularly puzzling is that Kvietkauskas uses EXCEL as the carrier for the five secure lines in his office, and considers himself neither an AT&T, MCI nor QUEST customer, although all three have contacted him about the unauthorized calls. When he talked with an AT&T representative, he was told, "You have no choice" but to pay the bill but that if he switched to A&T for long distance, "some adjustments" might be made to the bill. He tried to opt out of or block international calls to prevent future fraudulent use of his line, but was told that was not an option.
Looking for help
Since AT&T holds Kvietkauskas responsible for the charges on his line, he has formally appealed to them to have the charges dismissed. As things stand, he has not had a response to his appeal and is still being held responsible for the charges. His primary concern is to "wipe out" the bill, but he is also aware of the possible international terrorist implications of the calls and has tried to alert agencies or individuals who could investigate them. He has contacted the Carlisle police, the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission. He has also contacted the Executive Office of Consumer Affairs, the Attorney General's Office, e-mailed the Federal Trade Commission and the offices of his legislators, many of whom seem to be on vacation. Most of these contacts seem to have fallen on deaf ears but he has had two e-mails from the state Attorney General's office and an acknowledgement of the information sent by the CIA. Two of his lines are presently blocked for long distance, which creates a hardship in his insurance business.
Credit card, identity theft
Police Chief David Galvin says that in the last six months Carlisle police have received reports of one identity theft and three credit-card thefts. He urges residents to immediately notify police if this happens, though he also acknowledges that investigation of this kind of theft "is beyond our resources and technology." When unauthorized credit card use is promptly reported, unauthorized charges are usually dropped. However, businesses differ in their response to fraudulent activity: AT&T, for example, offers no channel of resolution other than appeal, which can be denied. While a recording on Verizon's customer service line states that "the privacy of your account is your right and our duty," Kvietkauskas has not yet found a guiding hand to help him attain this right.
© 2003 The