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FRAUD POSTERS WARN CONSUMERS ABOUT CALLING CARD NUMBER THIEVES

 FRAUD POSTERS WARN CONSUMERS ABOUT CALLING CARD NUMBER THIEVES
 NEW YORK, March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- In a public service campaign sponsored by AT&T and local transportation authorities, posters warning consumers about telephone toll fraud began appearing this month in train, plane and bus terminals around the United States.
 The campaign is taking place close to where most phone fraud occurs, namely, at public phone booths located in transportation centers like the Port Authority bus terminal in New York. Other high-crime areas are train, bus and airline terminals in New York, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
 The message on posters that are going up in these cities and elsewhere is direct: There are criminals lurking near public phone booths trying to steal your calling card number.
 Stolen calling card numbers are quickly passed among a suspected nationwide criminal network that can run up thousands of dollars in illegal calls in a matter of hours.
 When long distance companies detect a sudden surge in international calls charged to a card number, they can take the number out of service, and often do so even before a victim is aware that his or her card number has been ripped off. At the same time, they also try to contact the card holder to determine if the calls are legitimate.
 The illegal calling is accomplished through so-called "call sell" operations, street corner salespeople who offer to take cash in return for placing international phone calls for anyone willing to pay them.
 Phone fraud drives up the cost of providing long distance service and costs Americans more than $1.2 billion, according to industry experts.
 In addition to the posters, AT&T has produced a series of print ads and Public Service Announcement (PSA) video and audio clips for use on airline flights. Spanish language versions of the same warnings will also be offered to print and broadcast media around the United States.
 The current advertising and public service campaign supplements AT&T's ongoing effort to educate consumers about toll fraud. During the height of the U.S. travel season, AT&T issued consumer tips to protect the public from phone scams.
 Toll fraud video clips are being offered to TV stations in most states, including high crime locations such as Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Houston and most national cable TV outlets. Audio spots have been sent to more than 500 radio stations throughout the United States. The in-flight clips are currently being offered to American and United Airlines.
 Calling Card Fraud Tips
 AT&T offers these tips to avoid calling card fraud:
 -- Make sure no one can see you keying in your calling card number or overhear you reading the number to the operator. Whenever possible, use a phone that reads your calling card automatically.
 -- Do not use your telephone calling card as identification for purchases. Use some other identification to avoid sharing your calling card number with a merchant.
 -- Beware of individuals who call you at home requesting telephone calling card number verification. AT&T and other telephone companies will never ask for your card number over the phone. Your long distance and local phone companies already have that information in their billing records.
 -- 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 and issue you a new card. AT&T customers may dial 1-800-CALL ATT.
 -0- 3/12/92
 /CONTACT: Andrew Myers, 908-221-2737, or home, 908-522-9485; or Sally Sherwood, 212-605-6762, or home, 212-580-3255, both of AT&T/
 (T) CO: AT&T ST: New Jersey IN: TLS SU:


GK -- NY037 -- 7741 03/12/92 11:33 EST
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 12, 1992
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