How it Works
Voicemail hacking is a simple case of phone number spoofing, which is where you artificially make your number look like it’s the victims number. You then simply call the victims number while you’re spoofing the same number and you get sent directly to their voicemail. It’s works the same way as calling yourself from your phone, except you can do it from any phone. This method would be no good if every cell carrier required you to put in a password to access your voicemail, but they don’t. I’m pretty sure all cell carriers have the function but they probably have it turned off by default to prevent customers from forgetting their passwords and getting locked out of their voicemail.
I assume they think a call from the customer’s phone is security enough for most so they don’t turn it on by default. This is obviously not true since websites like telespoof are around and can even let you try it for free. All you have to do is put your number in the first box and the victims number in the second and third box and hit the “Try Telespoof” button. It will first call you and then the victim which should send you directly to their voicemail. If they don’t have a password then you’re in. So you see it’s more of trick than a hack since there’s not a lot between you and their voicemail. You didn’t really break into a house if the backdoor was open if you know what I mean!
Doing this is illegal, of course, and is probably considered to be wiretapping or something similar which I believe is a felony. So by all means don’t try this especially with malicious intent, because it can be traced if you’re not carful.
How to Protect Yourself
Protecting yourself is easy, all you have to do is put a password on your voicemail. To do this, or check to see if you have a password, just call yourself from your phone that is assigned to that number. If it doesn’t ask you for a password then you are at risk. To assign a password listen to the automated menu options. AT&T’s password settings are under Personal Option >> Administrative Options>> Passwords. Once there hitting 2 lets you turn the password on and off. Once you have done that and have navigated back to the passwords menu hitting one will let change the password.
The shortcut from the main menu is 4212 to turn passwords on and 4211 to change the password. Verizon has a password prompt on all their accounts so if you are a Verizon customer you are safe. I had to turn on my password on for my AT&T phone, so if you are a AT&T user you might want to check yours.
This whole scandal is really the cell carries fault making it easy for people to break into your voicemail account. If I were someone effected by these voicemail hacking scandals I would be suing them first.