Unauthorized remote access to phone answering system

I have, like many others, a phone answering system that I can remotely access by phone. You only have to assign a remote access code to the system so that you can access many features of your answering system remotely from a touch-tone phone.

Yesterday, before I left my apartment, at least 4 messages were stored on my answering machine. I wanted to listen to them once more. When I came back, I heard the beep signal from my answering machine signaling that a new message had been recorded.

Immediately I walked to my phone and noticed right away that the number on my answering system had been reduced to number 1. My system is set up so that it enumerates and displays the number of the recorded messages in a message window. The number in the message window should have been at the least number 5.

You probably can imagine that I was stunned seeing my previous stored messages being erased from my phone storage system. The new message that was left consisted only of a short message: a greeting, my name was said twice and afterwards the words “thank you.” The female person on the phone spoke with an accent. Due to her intonation, I believe it was an Asian woman, maybe Chinese. Since I don’t have contact to Asians or Chinese people, I didn’t recognize her voice.

Later that day I spoke with a neighbor about this incident, and he suggested that I change my remote access code to prevent anyone else to remotely access my phone system. After he reminded me that my answering system could be remotely accessed (I actually never used this feature from another phone), I wondered whether this had happened before. Did someone access my system without my authorization and erased messages left for me? I’ll probably never know that.

I’m writing about this incident because I want to remind you that whenever a code is required, someone else can retrieve this code, access the system without your authorization, and delete important data and/or messages.

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