By Andy Labdon
A couple of cases of suspected “eavesdropping” have been suspected in Wadena where the parties believe someone is listening to their private phone calls.
Phone tapping or listening to conversations with the use of a tap, scanner, or hacking in to, is a serious crime, and no one should have to put up with an invasion of their privacy.
Several tell-tale signs can help determine if someone is tapping into phone conversations. Probably the easiest way is for private information, only known to yourself,and the person you were speaking to on the phone, inexplicably becomes public knowledge, as has reportedly happened in Wadena.
Other signs could be strange audible noises, clicking sounds during a conversation, popping, static and humming, all may indicate surveillance devices are being used on a phone line.
The noise of static, scratching or popping is caused by a capacitive discharge created when two conductors, like a wiretap on a phone line, are connected. High-pitched humming noises can also be an indicator of a wiretap.
If you suspect a breach of your privacy has occurred due to phone tapping, call your service provider. They will initiate a check and inform the authorities who will act.
Some eavesdropping devices use frequencies that are close to the FM radio band so that you may notice strange interference on your FM radio. It is also possible to use your FM radio to indicate a tapped line. Set the radio to mono, tune in to the far end of the band and listen for squeals, moving around the room if necessary. You should also monitor for anomalies in your car radio because antennas are often used by eavesdroppers.
Another tell-tale sign is interference with TV broadcast frequencies, specifically UHF channels. You can even use a handheld TV with an antenna to sweep a room for interference.
Cordless phones are extremely easy to listen in on and can be picked up by several devices on the same frequency. If you are using a cordless phone, then just assume that your conversation can be heard by anyone who wants to listen.
For around $3,000 a small hand-held digital scanner can be purchased that is capable of listening to any 800/900 MHz mobile phone conversation. This device allows the user to key in up to 20 cellular phone numbers to monitor. Once those numbers are loaded into the scanner, it will pick up any incoming or outgoing call made to or from the number specified, and the scanner will intercept the conversation and display the number of the phone being used. This particular unit is also capable of general monitoring, with a push of a button, the unit will scan, intercept, and display the number of the phone that was picked up.
There are many weaknesses in today’s technology leaving the backdoor open for illegal criminal activity. Every cell phone has a sim card, and every sim card has a default pin. This number is typically set at 0000 when first purchased, and it’s up to the owner to change it. Sometimes dealers or retailers will do that upon purchase.
Once someone knows or guesses a network’s default pin and the victim’s phone number, it is quite simple to hack, and is all rather straightforward and requires little or no skill.
It is not illegal to own a scanner but it is entirely illegal to use one, and the penalties if caught can be rather high.
Whether it’s hacking into a system or merely using advanced expensive technology, there is always a chance someone is listening to your conversation. In cases like the suspected phone tapping in Wadena, you’re probably going to know, because in all likelihood it’s an amateur, who will probably leave a digital trace like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of breadcrumbs.
Since the News posted this subject on line under, ‘Stories we are working on,’ we have received more information on calls being intercepted or listened to.
“I thought I was going mad or something,” said one caller, after private and confidential subjects that were discussed over the phone seemed to be out in the public forum within a very short time of the conversation taking place. In fact, according to one caller, it seems this has been going on for a long time. The News received unconfirmed reports that suggest two such devices exist in Wadena.