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AT&T hit with class action on behalf of voice mail hacking victims

Suit alleges that hackers are exploiting flaws in AT&T’s collect call verification system

May 29, 2003 – A class action lawsuit filed today against AT&T in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that the hackers are exploiting flaws in AT&T’s collect call verification system to charge collect calls to the accounts of telephone customers who have never authorized or agreed to pay for the calls. The lawsuit claims that AT&T is aware of this scam but is trying to force customers to pay thousands of dollars in charges for the unauthorized collect calls.

Download the full complaint as a PDF file.

The class action complaint was filed by victim Dr. Jeremy Orgel on behalf of all telephone customers. In February 2003, someone hacked into Dr. Orgel’s voicemail and ran up over $23,000 in charges for collect calls from Saudi Arabia. AT&T insists that Dr. Orgel is obligated to pay for these charges.

According to Mark A. Chavez, of Chavez & Gertler, the law firm representing the class, AT&T is unlawfully attempting to shift its own financial responsibility for a scam perpetrated by sophisticated hackers onto the backs of innocent telephone customers. "The hackers have figured out how to manipulate AT&T’s automated long distance telephone system and exploit its flaws," Chavez noted. "It’s not the customer’s fault that AT&T has been duped and the customer should not be required to pay for AT&T’s mistakes."

"We are pleased that Mark Chavez and his associates have chosen to represent the victims who are being forced to pay for these fraudulent charges," said Linda Sherry of Consumer Action. "We know of dozens of people who have been hit with this fraud, many of them professionals and small business people. Despite our continued complaints, regulatory agencies have not responded to their plight. We have faith that the courts will recognize that it is unfair to make these victims pay for something they didn't do."

Consumer Action is keeping a database of victims in order to update them on news and allow them to network amongst each other and with the media. Represented in the database are victims from the Washington, DC, area, Arizona, New Hampshire and California.

Chavez & Gertler, based in Mill Valley, CA, can be reached at (415) 381-5599.


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