Stories of voicemail hacking doing the rounds in the press at the moment conjure images of hard-nosed, mac-wearing, er, hacks (for lack of a better word) setting up complicated wiretaps and relying on all kinds of Mi5-level surveillance technology.
But the truth is that it’s pretty easy to hack into someone’s voicemail if you know, or can guess, their PIN number.
To get into your phone’s voicemail, all somebody has to do is call your phone, wait for the voicemail message to appear and then press the ‘*’ key. They’ll then be prompted to enter the PIN, which, if guessed correctly, will allow them access to your messages, personal greeting, mailbox settings, the lot.
The first time you set up voicemail on your phone, you’ll normally be asked to create a PIN number.
As with all PIN numbers (or any form of security) we recommend that you choose something that’s not obvious - DON’T choose something like the year of your birth date, 1111, 1234 or any of these numbers here.
If you have entered something along these lines (tut tut) then the best bet is to get in contact with your network’s customer services to get the PIN reset or change it by using the instructions on your carrier's website. As well as this, we’ve included voicemail shortcuts for all of the major networks, if you want to reset your PIN without having to call up.
How to set up your voicemail PIN
Hold 1 on your EE phone, call 07953 222222 if you're calling from another phone or dial +447953 222222 if you're abroad. Press * to make sure you're at the main menu, then press 3 to access the 'settings and features menu,' followed by 3 once more to change your PIN. Once you've chosen and entered a new PIN press # to save.
EE's voicemail PIN numbers can be anything from 4 to 10 digits long - keep ‘em guessing by choosing a lengthy and complicated one. What's more, you won't be able to choose a PIN that's fewer than four digits, made up of consecutive numbers (1234), repeated numbers (4444), contain any part of your mobile number in the same order or be one of the carrier's previous default PINs (1210 and 2580).
If you're still an Orange or T-Mobile customer, the above instructions also cover you too.
Giffgaff likes to do things a little differently. You can access your voicemail by dialling 443, but to reset your PIN you have to text RESET (case sensitive) to 802443. You'll then receive a text message with a temporary five-digit PIN. You then have to call your voicemail from your Giffgaff phone using this new temporary PIN to sign in after which you'll then be prompted to set a new PIN.
Dial 123 from your phone or if you need to access your voicemail from another phone you can dial +447782333123. Choose option 4, then option 2 and finally option 1 to change your PIN. Then, once you've entered your desired digits, press the # key and punch it in once more to confirm.
Dial 901 for voicemail as normal. Interrupt the menu message by pressing * and then press 4. Follow the prompts and you’ll be free to enter your PIN number.
The same applies should you ever need to change it - call 901, press * and then choose option 4.
As with EE, you get the option to create a longer PIN number with Three - voicemail PINs can be anything between 4 to 8 digits long. When you dial 123 to set up voicemail initially, you’ll be asked to enter your PIN before you do anything else.
To change it, simply call 123 again, enter your old PIN and follow the prompts to change it, which will require you to press option 4, option 2, option 2, then enter a new PIN followed by the # key and then a repeat of the new PIN, once again followed by the # key to confirm.
As this MVNO operates using EE's network, its voicemail protocols are near enough identical, right down to the disallowed default PINs.
Hold 1 on your Virgin Mobile phone to access your voicemail as normal, press option 2 and then follow the guided instructions. As with EE's voicemail PIN numbers Virgin Mobile's can be anything from 4 to 10 digits long and you won't be able to choose a PIN that's fewer than four digits, made up of consecutive numbers (1234), repeated numbers (4444), contain any part of your mobile number in the same order or be one of the aforementioned previous default PINs - in this instance 1210, 2580 and 7890.
To set up your voicemail PIN or modify an existing one, call 121 from your Vodafone phone or 0414121121 from any other phone, wait for the prompt, press 3 for 'personal preferences', 3 again for 'log in options' and 1 to change your security code. You’ll then be given the option to PIN away, with a 1 to confirm or a 2 if you want to retype it again.
If you (or anybody) enters the wrong PIN five times, your Vodafone voicemail will be locked and you’ll be sent a randomly-generated temporary PIN via text. Use this to log in as described above and choose a new PIN.