Redlands travel agency gets $117,000 phone bill following hack

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The owner of a family travel agency in Redlands received a shocking $117,000 phone bill after hackers took over his Verizon phone lines.

Chris Pohren runs a family travel agency called Discover Cruises & Travel in Redlands, and uses his phone lines to book his clients on exotic trips. But he never expected the same phone system would take its own international trip thanks to hackers.

"They were able to rack up over 5,000 minutes in calling to Africa, which was in the $7 a minute range. When I got my bill, it was $117,000," he said.

Pohren says the hackers used his call forwarding and international long-distance services to commit the fraud over the 4th of July weekend.

His carrier Verizon alerted him and shut down his phones. But Pohren says the company could have warned him and prevented the holiday breach because he had two smaller hacks on July 2 and July 3.

"I got a call on my cellphone saying, 'Hey, we can't get through to your business line. We're getting an adult hotline,'" Pohren said.

According to Pohren, Verizon quickly restored his phone system in those two instances, but never told him to change his phone's password.

A spokesperson for Verizon told Eyewitness News it's the responsibility of the phone owner to secure their own phone system, but that Verizon is working to resolve the issue.

"How did they not catch this a little sooner [or ] have a cap on it at $1,000 or $2,000?" Pohren said.

He has since canceled his call-forwarding and long-distance plans. It's been a tough and stressful lesson, but Pohren says he has this advice: "Reset your passwords from time to time on your phone system."

Verizon has since completely forgiven his bill.

Related Topics:
businessverizonhackingfraudRedlandsSan Bernardino County
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