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CONSUMER GROUPS, SPRINT FIGHT PHONE FRAUD WITH NEW PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS

 CONSUMER GROUPS, SPRINT FIGHT PHONE FRAUD
 WITH NEW PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS
 SEATTLE, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs, Consumer Action and Sprint (NYSE: FON) today introduced a series of television public service announcements (PSAs) designed to address the most common problems that recent immigrants face when they use the U.S. phone system. The introduction of the PSAs -- part of the organizations' "New Americans Program" -- was made at the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators annual conference here.
 The first PSAs provide phone fraud protection measures in Spanish and English and will be distributed to Spanish- and English-speaking television stations in select cities nationwide. The five PSAs address problems identified in a national survey sponsored earlier this year by Sprint in cooperation with the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs.
 The survey concluded that new Americans may be paying more for telephone services and receiving fewer benefits because they don't fully understand the American phone system. It also showed that recent immigrants often are the victims of phone fraud. According to the survey, 14 percent of Asian and Hispanic immigrants have been victims of phone fraud or know someone who has been victimized by this crime.
 "New Americans, particularly those with a language barrier, are often victims of phone fraud and scams," said Dave Schmieg, president of Sprint's Consumer Services Group. "This series of public service announcements can effectively help newly arrived consumers protect themselves against costly scams. These announcements will be especially effective because they will be broadcast in the native language of many recent immigrants."
 The five PSAs offer tips to help consumers prevent and recognize phone fraud. Spanish and English versions of the announcements will be distributed initially in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago and Brownsville, Texas.
 "It's important to bring companies and consumer groups together to meet the needs of consumers who have come to America from around the globe," said Ann Windham Wallace, director of the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs. "Immigrants can decrease their vulnerability to phone fraud if they are told about the possible fraud situations they may encounter."
 The U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs, Consumer Action and Sprint have embarked on a national education campaign to address those problem areas identified in the survey.
 As another part of the campaign, informational brochures will be available on phone fraud protection in the next few weeks. The brochures will be available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean and will be distributed by social service agencies and community groups in the six cities where the PSAs will be aired. A total of 140,000 brochures will be provided free to 100 agencies in the six cities for distribution to their clients.
 The phone fraud brochure will be followed by brochures on "How and When to Use Operator Services," "International Calling and International Calling Plans" and "Using 9-1-1."
 "The information needs of recent immigrants are serious concerns," said Ken McEldowney, executive director of Consumer Action. "This educational campaign will help consumers who are new to this country get maximum use and value from their telephones."
 Market Segment Research, a Miami-based research company, conducted the survey of recent immigrants in February 1992. The survey determined the awareness, attitudes and usage of telecommunications services among recently arrived Asian and Hispanic people, the two fastest-growing segments of the population in America today. Survey interviews were conducted in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami, Chicago and McAllen-Brownsville, Texas.
 The U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs promotes information and education on key issues directly affecting consumers. These areas include consumer privacy, product safety recalls, telemarketing fraud prevention, banking and financial services, consumer education for under-served constituencies, food safety and nutrition, environmental concerns and healthcare.
 Consumer Action is a non-profit, tax-exempt consumer advocacy and education organization that has served California consumers since 1971. Based in San Francisco, Consumer Action assists consumers by giving advice on consumer problems over the phone, conducting and publishing surveys and testifying before legislative and regulatory agencies.
 Sprint is a diversified international telecommunications company with $8.8 billion in annual revenues and the United States' only nationwide all-digital, fiber-optic network. Its divisions provide global long distance voice, data and video products and services, and local telephone services to more than 4 million subscriber lines in 17 states.
 -0- 6/16/92
 /CONTACT: Robin Pence, 202-828-7454, or after hours, 703-820-1873, or Robin Carlson, 202-828-7426, or after hours, 703-573-8364, both of Sprint; or Theresa Michel of the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs, 202-634-4310; or Ken McEldowney of Consumer Action, 415-777-9648/
 (FON) CO: Sprint; Consumer Action; U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs ST: Washington IN: TLS SU:


MH -- DC008 -- 0687 06/16/92 12:55 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 16, 1992
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