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AT&T AND CONSUMER ALERT LAUNCH CONSUMER EDUCATION CAMPAIGN

 AT&T AND CONSUMER ALERT LAUNCH CONSUMER EDUCATION CAMPAIGN
 PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- AT&T (NYSE: T) and Consumer Alert today launched a consumer education campaign to help older Americans avoid becoming victims of telephone fraud.
 Although telephone con artists prey on people of all ages and lifestyles in what telephone industry experts estimate is a $1 billion a year ripoff, consumers over the age of 60 are often targets.
 The consumer education effort will focus on building awareness of telephone scams and ways to combat them. Some 6,000 senior centers have been sent posters, information for dissemination through local newsletters and free brochures. The campaign will be supported by public service announcements and print advertising underwritten by AT&T.
 "The best defense against telephone fraud is an educated consumer," said Barbara Keating-Edh, president of Consumer Alert, a nationwide, non-profit consumer organization based in Washington, D.C. and Modesto, Calif. "If people understand how telephone scams work they can avoid becoming victims."
 In one common fraud scheme, sometimes called the "Just Say Yes" scam, a thief impersonating an investigator calls the victim at home and asks for cooperation in a telephone company investigation. The victim is then asked to help catch a criminal (or fix a service problem) by accepting charges for a series of calls.
 The imposter assures victims they won't be billed for the calls and, in some cases, may promise substantial credit or cash payment as an incentive. If a customer is reluctant to participate, the imposter may threaten to cut off the victim's phone service.
 Contrary to what they may be told by con artists, consumers are responsible for charges they willingly accept. What's more, because many of these charges are costly to collect, long distance companies lose millions of dollars to fraud every year. That drives up the cost of doing business and, as a result, all of the company's customers are victimized.
 AT&T also advises consumers to be on the lookout for thieves intent on stealing their telephone calling card number. Some card number thieves frequent public places such as bus, train and airline terminals, eavesdropping or spying on unsuspecting callers to obtain their calling card numbers. Others will call victims at home, using a variety of phony excuses to trick a customer into revealing a calling card number.
 Avoiding and Reporting Telephone Fraud
 Here are some tips offered by AT&T to help consumers avoid becoming victims of telephone fraud:
 -- If you receive a call from anyone claiming to be a phone company or law enforcement investigator asking you to accept charges or to reveal your calling card number, hang up immediately. No legitimate representative would ever ask you for such cooperation or information.
 -- If you suspect you are a victim of a telephone scam aimed at getting you to accept charges for telephone calls, report it immediately by calling the number for billing inquiries that appears on your phone bill.
 -- If you suspect that your telephone calling card has been lost, stolen or otherwise compromised, report this immediately to your long distance company. The company will cancel your calling card number immediately and issue you a new card. If you are an AT&T customer, simply dial 1-800-CALL-ATT.
 -- Make every effort to protect your calling card number. Do not use your card as identification when making purchases and make sure no one can see you keying in your calling card number or overhear you reading the number to an operator. Whenever possible, use a public phone that reads your calling card automatically.
 To obtain a free booklet on telephone fraud, call AT&T toll-free at 1-800-222-0300, ext. 273.
 /delval/
 -0- 2/5/92
 /CONTACT: Nancy Smith, 215-963-1868, or, home, 717-737-2045, or Ellen Zundl, 908-221-5017, or, home, 201-543-2236, both of AT&T/
 (T) CO: AT&T; Consumer Alert ST: IN: TLS SU:


MK-JS -- PH045 -- 7369 02/05/92 16:47 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 5, 1992
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