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CONSUMER ALERT
Pacific Bell warns customers:
Watch out for collect calling scam

Pacific Bell has issued a warning regarding a collect call scam that appears to be targeting Hispanic customers. Some Hispanic customers in the San Diego and Orange County areas have contacted Pacific Bell regarding a scam in which they are charged more than $50 for collect calls from Mexico, even if they didn't accept the charges.

The "operator" claims that there is a collect call from Mexico from someone with the same last name as the party being called. Even if the call is declined, the customers are charged a large fee.

This is a classic case of "cramming," when a third-party provider charges for services or fees that the customer has not authorized. Many telecommunications companies bill through local telephone companies such as Pacific Bell, which are required to provide billing and collections services to them.

As part of ongoing efforts to protect customers, Pacific Bell is offering these tips about cramming:

What To Do If You're Crammed & How Pacific Bell Can Help

· Customers should first attempt to deal directly with the offending company, whose name and telephone number should be printed on the same bill page as the charge in question. Often, the problem can be solved with a single telephone call.

· If the offending company does not agree to solve the problem, customers should call Pacific Bell. Residential Customers / English: 1-800-288-1996. Residential Customers / Spanish: 1-800-795-1116. Business: 1-800-750-2355.

· Pacific Bell will work with its customers to ensure that "crammed" charges are removed and that customers are not required to pay for services they neither ordered nor received.

Tips to avoid cramming:

· Watch for suspicious changes to your telephone bill. Carefully read your telephone bill each month. Watch for changes to your service. Look for new names or unfamiliar charges.

· Ask questions. If a telecommunications provider contacts you, ask a lot of questions to ensure you understand what is being offered, how much you will have to pay and what you will receive. Be sure to ask for a name, address and phone number so you can check the validity of the offer.

· Read the fine print. Never sign anything without reading it very carefully. Cramming can occur when you enter contests, sign telephone service incentive checks or respond to offers of prizes.

 

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