Long
distance
phone
fraud
is just
a call
away...
Tips to avoid
phone scams

Compliments of...
Assemblywoman
Annette M. Robinson



A message from...

Assemblywoman
Annette M. Robinson


Dear Friend,

We all rely on our telephone for everything from business to keeping in touch with family and friends.

This flyer outlines some recommendations to consider when choosing a long distance carrier, and also warns about scams to look out for once you have selected a service.

One problem is called “slamming” which is when your telephone service is switched to another company – without your permission.

I hope you find this information helpful. Feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or comments on this issue or any other concerns.

Sincerely,

Annette M. Robinson
Member of Assembly




Tips to avoid phone scams

Calling Card Charges

There’s no guarantee you will pay the issuing telephone company’s rates when you use your calling card. Unless you take special precautions, calling card calls made through a pay phone will be billed by the long distance company or operator selected by the owner of the pay phone or the place where the pay phone is installed.

For example, a call made using a low-cost long distance company calling card at a pay phone, and dialed through the operator that the pay phone owner selects, will be billed at the operator’s rates. The company selected by the pay phone owner may charge $3 per minute for a call for which your company charges only 20 cents per minute. Your calling card number is used merely to identify whom to bill for the call.

Using a calling card at a hotel, motel or hospital room telephone can also lead to high charges unless you make certain that a call is connected to the telephone company that issued your calling card.

Calls made using calling cards issued by regional long distance companies are just as vulnerable to such surprise charges as those made with calling cards issued by any other telephone company.

To avoid paying higher fees, you should check with your regional long distance company (and any other telephone companies whose calling cards you use) and learn what steps to take to ensure that the calls you make will be billed by the company that issued the calling card. Most telephone companies have special dialing codes to connect to the card issuer.




Unwanted Telephone Charges Or “Cramming”

There is a chance that you will get unwanted telephone charges, also known as “cramming,” no matter how careful you are. If you get an unwanted telephone charge, you can dispute it.

You usually will not know you have been crammed until the name of a company that you do not recognize, charging for services that you did not order, appears on your local telephone bill.

Your first step should be to get in touch with the telephone company that bills you for the unwanted charge.

The company name on the bill page with the unwanted charge may not be the name of the telephone company that charged you.

Today, there are billing and collection agents that arrange the billing for many small telephone companies.




Collect Call Charges

The fact that a collect call is made to you from a place within your calling region does not mean that the call will be billed by your regional long distance company. Instead, a collect call is billed by the telephone company that the caller is using.

Remember to check with your regional long distance company and find out how to make regional collect calls through your company. As with calling card calls, most telephone companies have area code 800 numbers or special dialing codes to use when calling collect.




Slamming

“Slamming” is the unauthorized switching of a consumer’s telephone service to another telephone company.

Hundreds of thousands of New York consumers have had their long distance service slammed from their interstate long distance company to another. Some of these slams have been accidental. Others were fraudulent.

Consumers who have been slammed are entitled to have their service switched back to their original long distance carrier at no charge and are not responsible for any call costs higher than those that would be charged by their original service provider.

One way to lessen your chances of being slammed is to ask your local telephone company to “freeze” your regional long distance company. Freezing long distance service choice is done by local telephone companies which control the equipment that directs long distance calls from your telephone line to different long distance networks. Freezing your regional long distance company won’t completely stop slamming, but it’s your best protection.

Remember, you must be careful not to change your telephone service in a way you do not want. Be specific about which type of service (local, regional or interstate) you ask to be frozen when contacting your local company. In a fully competitive telephone marketplace, you will have to be vigilant to ensure you are connected to the telephone companies you want.




Long Distance Service Tips...


Check several telephone companies for their regional long distance service options.


To select a regional long distance company that offers you the best rates, examine your individual regional calling pattern.


Ask regional long distance companies for special rates, as well as their basic regional calling patterns.


Make sure calling card collect calls are billed by the telephone company you selected.


Check your telephone bill for charges for services you never agreed to (called “cramming”).


If you find unwanted telephone charges, contact the company that charged you to dispute the charge.


If you cannot resolve your bill dispute, file a complaint with the New York State Attorney General or the NYS Public Service Commission.



Need Help?

If you cannot settle your telephone bill dispute with the company that charged you, you can file a complaint by contacting:

NYS Office of the Attorney General
Bureau of Consumer Frauds & Protection

120 Broadway, Third Floor
New York, NY 10271
1-800-771-7755

You can also file a complaint with the Public Service Commission at:

NYS Dept. of Public Service
3 Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12223-1350
1-800-342-3377




Questions? Contact...
Assemblywoman
Annette M. Robinson

1360 Fulton Street, Room 417
Brooklyn, New York 11216
(718) 399-7630

Room 430 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-5474

robinsa@assembly.state.ny.us


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