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CON ARTISTS DEVISE NEW PHONE-CALLING SCAMS; GTE WARNS CUSTOMERS: DON'T DISCLOSE 'PIN' NUMBERS OR OK CERTAIN THIRD-PARTY CALLS

 THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Con artists are putting a new spin on phone fraud, GTE California warned its customers today.
 "We want our customers to be on guard against people misrepresenting themselves as GTE employees, long-distance phone company employees or officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Federal Communications Commission," said Rosey Casillas, GTE California director of security.
 "These impostors are calling our customers and asking for their personal identification numbers (PIN) for their calling cards. And in some cases, these con artists are asking customers to approve third- party calls under the pretense of catching phone-fraud `crooks.'
 "Once the customer gives out this confidential information, the con artist begins charging calls to the customer's calling card or phone account."
 Casillas said phone-fraud artists continue to be inventive. However, customers can help thwart these impostors by using common sense.
 "First, don't give out your PIN to anyone except an operator, and only when you've initiated that call," he said. "GTE will never ask a customer for his or her calling card number.
 "Don't approve third-party-billed calls for anyone other than family members, or someone you know or can identify. And if we (GTE) truly are conducting an investigation, we already have the customer's billing and proprietary phone information, so we will not ask for it over the phone."
 When calling-card fraud occurs, the unusual activity shows up quickly on a data report. GTE will then contact the customer to see if he or she has made those calls. If not, GTE will cancel the card and issue the customer a new card number.
 GTE suggests other tips for guarding one's phone use:
 1) Protect a calling card, just as you would any other credit cards.
 2) When contacted by someone claiming to be a phone company employee, law enforcement official, etc., ask for their name, employee or badge number and a call-back phone number. Verify with an operator that a phone number truly is that of a professed law enforcement official. If the person calling claims to be with GTE, check with the local GTE business office at the number listed in the phone book or on a monthly bill under the "Where to reach us" section.
 3) When using a calling card at a public pay phone, keep the card covered from other persons' view; stand in front of the phone when dialing, so con artists can't see the numbers being dialed.
 4) Teach children never to give out their home phone number, address or calling card information. If someone calls and asks, "Who is this?"; reply, "Who are you calling for?" If someone calls and asks "What number is this?"' ask in turn, "What number are you calling?"
 If the number is correct, but the name doesn't match, tell the caller, "I'm sorry, there's no one here by that name."
 5) Children should never divulge that they're home alone. When called by persons unknown, who ask for their parents, children should say: "I'm sorry by (dad/mom/parents) can't come to the phone right now. If you'll leave your name and number, I'll have (him/her/them) call you back in a few minutes."
 GTE California provides local phone and short-haul toll service for more than 3 million customers in 330 communities, mostly in Southern California.
 -0- 8/12/93
 /CONTACT: Larry Cox of GTE California, 800-227-5556/


CO: GTE California ST: California IN: TLS UTI SU:

JB-EH -- LA012 -- 2100 08/12/93 11:56 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 12, 1993
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