Sunday, 7 May 2017

On 23:41 by admin   No comments
The Select Board is looking at footing a big bill for a bunch of international calls after the town office's voicemail system was "hacked."

"The good news is our telephone bill is not $25,000," Shannon Meckle, administrative assistant to the Select Board, said during a meeting on May 1. "It was at one point. Fairpoint adjusted it down to $3,359. So, apparently they [the hackers] were hacking into our voicemail system and calling into the Dominican several times."

The Select Board voted to pay $129.37 of the bill for now, along with a letter from the town attorney. The board also plans to contact the Vermont Attorney General's Office. 

Meckle said the calls were made to disposable phones and the phone numbers are no longer in service.

There is no way to find out who made the calls, according to Meckle.

"Because any which way you go in to see who did it, it looks like we did it," she said, adding that the Vermont State Police had been notified. "They said basically the same thing; it's chasing ghosts because you can't figure out who made them. It looks like we made them."

Meckle said protections on the system have now been put in place to prevent future hacking but the bill from Fairpoint could not be lowered because it is the lowest international rate the company can offer.

Resident Ken Estey called for the board to defer payment until the issue could be explored some more.

"That strikes me as unacceptable," he said. "And it seems to me that further steps could be undertaken to continue to press a phone company that ultimately should shoulder that responsibility."

An employee at Fairpoint who deals with cases of fraud said nonprofits, and small business and municipalities have been targeted, Meckle told the board.

Select Board Chairwoman Carol Hatcher wondered whether the town should switch service providers.

"This is ridiculous," she said. "This wasn't our fault. This was a criminal action against us."

Meckle said the town's insurance, which is through Vermont League of Cities and Towns, should include phone hacking as computer hacking is already covered.

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