NEW YORK -- Bell Atlantic is urging its residential and small business customers to be on the alert for telemarketing schemes in which callers make phony claims and request personal information.
In one scam, the caller falsely claims to represent Bell Atlantic (or NYNEX) and offers to combine customers' local and long distance calling charges onto one bill. The telemarketer then attempts to get customers to agree to this offer by promising substantial savings on their long distance bills and protection from having their telephone service turned off. At times, the caller also may falsely claim that Bell Atlantic will no longer be billing for certain long distance companies.
The caller then informs customers their call is being recorded. If customers accept the offer of bill consolidation, the recording then may be used as authorization to change customers' long distance company, a process known as "slamming."
In this scheme and others, the callers also may ask for personal information such as birth dates or social security numbers. Bell Atlantic representatives may request a birth date or social security number only when a customer is establishing service for credit-checking purposes and occasionally as a means of verifying certain account information. Bell Atlantic does not use bill consolidators.
Consumers who receive this type of calls should ask many questions. Telemarketers generally hang up when they are challenged in this way. In addition, consumers should exercise caution when asked for personal information or dealing with any high-pressure telephone sales calls or "special" offers.
Always ask to see offers in writing and read the fine print closely. Reputable firms will welcome this careful scrutiny. Other helpful tips on handling telephone sales calls are included in the "Telephone Protection Tips" section of the Customer Guide Pages at the front of Bell Atlantic (or NYNEX) White Pages telephone directories.
If Bell Atlantic customers feel they have been victimized by one of these telemarketing scams and they want to restore their carrier choices, or if they would like to "freeze" their accounts so their accounts cannot be slammed in the future, they should call their Bell Atlantic business office. The toll-free phone numbers for these centers are listed in the front of the Bell Atlantic (or NYNEX) White Pages telephone directories.
The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.8 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.