Can your phone line be hacked?

The short answer is yes, but there are many scenarios that appear to be hacking, but actually isn’t. This article will expose some of the most common reasons why people think their phone line has been hacked and what you can and can’t do about it.

There is one common misconception that should be understood.  Voice over IP (VoIP) uses the internet to place/receive phone calls.  Unlike traditional analog telephone service, each VoIP call is sent with the telephone number you’re calling and the number you’re calling from.  Analog telephone lines are physically installed at a location and are much harder (albeit not impossible to hack).

You just called me

Some of the most prevalent types of telephone fraud is spoofing caller ID.  The short explanation of spoofed caller ID is a person who conceals their identity by placing a call to someone using VoIP while saying the call came from a different number (in this case your telephone number). These people generally are generally high volume, computer-driven campaigns to make contact with as many people as possible (likely for fraudulent/illegal activities). These people choose to conceal their true phone number because they don’t want to talk to someone calling back.

Calls that originate using VoIP require a valid account to charge to, but call origination numbers are (typically) based on the honor system; all calls should originate from an owned number and never spoofed with a number the originator doesn’t own. Very few phone companies mandate these checks, thus leaving innocent people to answer hundreds of return calls that the owner never originally placed.

What you can do to fix this:  Nothing. Tracking down this type of fraudulent calling is nearly impossible with how the publicly switched telephone network (PSTN) operates.

I see long distance charges for calls I never made

There are two (and only two) reasons this could happen.

If you are using a VoIP provider, you have probably been hacked and someone is placing calls through your device, your PBX or your account. This article has detailed instructions on how to resolve this.

If you have analog phone service provided by the local telephone company (not cable internet provider), there’s a good chance that the phone company technician crossed wires and someone in your neighborhood is on your line. While this could be intentional, analog lines have a distance limitation, so this person will have to be fairly close to your house.

What you can do to fix this: If using VoIP, contact your PBX vendor or phone company to block long distance until you can fix the problem.  If using analog phone service, call 611 and open a trouble ticket. They’ll dispatch a technician out to check your lines.  If a problem is found, they’ll issue a credit for the calls.

I picked up the phone and someone was on my line (not in my house)

This is also caused due to incorrect wiring by a local telephone company (not cable internet provider) technician crossing wires.

What you can do to fix this: Call 611 and open a trouble ticket.  They’ll dispatch a technician to find the issue and resolve it.




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