First time post here. I have a problem which I am hoping forum members can offer their opinions and advice on please.
I run a small business which has an office based phone system.
Hackers somehow accessed our office phone system one night in January. They managed to remotely make hundreds of calls, one after the other, to a premium rate number in the Solomon Islands. Each time the call connected, it cost £50. The total cost of the fraudulent calls is £3,500.
BT contacted us the following morning to say it looked like our system had been hacked,
due to the unusual overnight call activity to premium rate numbers.
We immediately found and patched the loophole which had allowed the remote access.
I then contacted our BT business account manager and asked them to place the disputed bill on hold whilst it was investigated.
Subsequently, BT have written me to advise that, according to their terms and conditions, we are liable for the fraudulent calls.
They have offered a payment plan, but won't reduce the bill.
BT have also advised me that because the premium rate numbers are outside of the UK, they are not controlled via a UK regulatory body.
They also tell me that they are under no obligation to monitor or identify fraudulent use of the network.
Because the calls were made to the Solomon Islands they also advised there is no way they can recover the cost back.
So, BT's view is that I have to pay the bill.
They also suggested to recover the cost from the IT company which manages our network
or from the Phone company which manages our phone system.
Both of those companies are small business, and they say it wasn't their fault, and in any event they can't afford to pay.
I should probably also add that BT agree that they accept that the phone calls have been fraudulently by criminals.
I have also reported the details to Action Fraud to get my crime reference number.
I've written back to BT and said asked the following question;
i) As the fraud was identified straight away and BT agree it was fraud,
BT wouldn't pay the company in the Solomon Islands immediately
- it must go through some form of invoice process which would take some days to process.
As I asked BT to not make the payment to the company in the Solomon Island when I first found out about the fraud,
my logic is that, if BT don't pay the invoice to the Solomon Islands,
then there is no need to pursue me for the costs.
ii) Can BT then confirm they have notified the company in the Solomon Islands of the fraud?
When did they notify the company?
I have also asserted, if BT do go ahead and make the payment to the Solomon Islands,
for a payment which they know to the fraudulent, and then the recover the cost from me,
they will be benefiting from the proceeds of crime, which is definitely immoral and probably illegal.
Whilst their terms and condition state that I am responsible for the fraudulent use of their network,
they also have some responsibility to prevent fraudulent use of their network.
They know for example from our call history, we never phone premium rate numbers,
we never phone the Solomon Islands,
we never phone in the middle of night,
and we don't make repeated calls to the same premium rate number one after the other.
Our normal call bill with BT is £200 / month by the way.
BT have replied saying they are seeking a legal view. Of course their solicitor will say BT are in the right.
I've replied to say, they need to be sure of their facts as if they insist on taking the payment from my account,
I will raise a moneyclaim on-line, and we can let a County Court judge decide if they agree with BT's view.
In my mind, the crux is whether BT make the payment to the Solomon Islands straight away,
or whether they actually have an opportinity to prevent the invoice from being made straight away whist it is being investigated.
If they don't make any attempt to prevent the fraud from being completed,
I believe this would be unreasonable and it would help my case.
Can anyone offer any suggestions or advice or how I should progress this?