Rep. Steve Israel: They can check your voicemail

Experts say voicemails can easily be hacked if not password protected

Published On: Jun 18 2012 04:23:26 AM EDT   Updated On: Jun 18 2012 06:49:58 AM EDT
WASHINGTON -

The recent phone hacking scandal in Britain has made headlines around the world. A congressman from New York is urging action to keep it from becoming a problem for consumers in the United States.

Voicemails can be either private or personal, but they are not usually meant for strangers’ ears. However, with the use of a so-called “spoofing” website, voicemails can easily be hacked, experts say.

Congressman Steve Israel recently demonstrated this method by hacking into a news photographer’s voicemail. He simply plugged in the cell phone number and within seconds had access to the voicemails.

“They can check your voicemail for personal information. They can violate your privacy,” said Rep. Steve Israel.

The only way to stop potential voicemail hackers is to ensure that your voicemail is password protected, police say.

Israel says some carriers like Verizon Wireless require voicemail passwords, but others like Sprint and T-Mobile do not. Now, he’s calling on the Federal Communications Commission to make voicemail passwords mandatory on all carriers.

In response, a spokesperson for a spoofing website said the site doesn’t condone or allow illegal uses and is for entertainment only.

Israel says he welcomes cellular carriers making the change on their own without government intervention.

Tips for iPhone users:.

Did you want to add a password to your voicemail for added security? Unfortunately this can only be done when setting up the voicemail for the first time, so if you did not add one to your iPhone when you set it up you will need to reset the phone in order to get to this setting. You can factory reset using these steps:

- From the home screen, tap Settings.
- Tap General
- Tap Reset
- Tap Erase All Content and Settings

Then, to set a password for voicemail:

- From the home screen, tap Phone.
- Tap Voicemail
- Tap Set Up Now
- Enter a voicemail password
- Tap Save
- Re-enter the password
- Tap Save again