Woman says her cell phone was hacked | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Woman says her cell phone was hacked

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Betty Pulido of South Lake Tahoe says someone hacked into her phone while she tried to use it. She has reported it to both authorities and the wireless phone company. Law enforcement said cell phone hacking, though not common, is possible.

It was Thursday afternoon when Betty Pulido discovered that every time she went to place a call on her cellular phone, she would get kicked off.

A few hours later, when she opened her phone to place a call, she found the unthinkable: Someone was scrolling through her phone and entering numbers as she watched in real time.

As she went to delete them, more numbers would appear, followed by asterisks, she says.

Whoever was on the other end would scroll to different settings and change them, adding the numeral 8 followed by asterisks in patterns of three, four and five.

It happened interactively, Pulido said, for an hour and a half. “Someone was in there and they knew what they were doing,” said Pulido, a 35-year South Shore resident. “It was total cat-and-mouse. He’s entering. I’m deleting. He goes to another page. I cancel that. He puts in some numbers, I delete the numbers.”

Authorities, including the California Attorney General’s office, say cellular phone hacking is possible.

Cingular told Pulido the following day that what she was describing was impossible. Pulido told the customer service representative that the impossible was possible because it happened.

“He was definitely a hacker. There is no doubt about it; someone was using my cell phone and I was watching them do it,” she said.

On Friday morning at Pulido’s request, Cingular changed her phone number. On Monday morning, her cellular service was down again.

Pulido filed a report with the South Lake Tahoe Police on Monday. She fears that a hacker tried to mine information such as telephone numbers or credit card information stored inside her telephone’s memory bank.

Cingular spokeswoman Lauren Garner said the wireless company is looking into her charges.

“We are taking her concerns seriously and are taking care of her customer needs as she requested to change her number,” Garner said.

Cingular has asked Pulido for the phone so it can investigate the matter. Pulido said she would turn it over to the phone company once authorities investigate the matter and look at the phone themselves.

While law enforcement deals with issues such as hacking and identity theft, Pulido’s case may be the first one of its kind, said Teresa Schilling of the California Attorney General’s Office.

After speaking with law enforcement technicians, Schilling said hacking can happen to cell phone users if protocols for wireless communication are left vulnerable. Though some doubt Pulido’s story, evidence among the technicians points to it being possible.

“There are hackers out there who run through combinations to get in,” she said. “I don’t think anything is surprising anymore. People need to pay attention and take steps to protect themselves and their personal information.”

Schilling encouraged Pulido to speak with the AG’s office. Pulido said she would be willing to do so and allow law enforcement technicians to look at the phone.

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