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Stay alert: Scammers up to no good

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Since 1993, dedicated volunteers have been working hard to help develop family and education support services for young children in our community.
Each year, Smart Start of Brunswick County, implements programs to help young people excel in the classroom and out.
Whether its providing childcare services, supporting pre-K partnerships or helping parents better understand what’s going on in their schools, Smart Start has proven to be a valuable tool for this community.
But unfortunately some ne’er-do-wells have set out to do them harm, although it’s unlikely the nonprofit organization was targeted for any specific reason.
Recently, Smart Start officials found out they had been hit by an international phone scam, and it comes with a whopping price tag of almost $27,000.
It appears hackers somehow found their way into the nonprofit’s multi-line phone system and used it to robo-call international telephone numbers.
It was all done during a weekend when no one was in the Smart Start office.
Local telephone service provider ATMC and area law enforcement officials say Smart Start isn’t the first to be hit by this type of telephone scam.
Worse yet, they all agree these types of international scams are hard to prosecute.
At this time its unclear whether or not Smart Start will have to shell out the almost $27,000 in fees. The investigation into it is ongoing.
To help decrease chances of this happening again, ATMC has put an international toll block on all 0 plus international calls. If you want to make those types of calls, you’ll have to notify ATMC directly to get the block lifted.
If you’re not using ATMC, officials suggest you call your long distance carrier and request to have one put in place.
We think that’s a small inconvenience for more protection.
ATMC also suggests the following for people with multi-line telephone systems:
•Require employees to change default password on their voice mailbox as soon as it is assigned.
•Program voicemail system to require passwords with a minimum of six characters. The more complex the password the more difficult it is to hack.
•Never make even a temporary password the same as an extension.
•Program your voicemail system to force users to change their password at least every 90 days.
•Disable features that allow long distance calls to be made offsite through a voicemail system.
•Never have unassigned voice mailboxes on the system.
•Restrict voicemail remote notification options to only contact approved pagers or mobile phones.
•Consider placing restrictions on international dialing through your long distance provider.