NEW YORK -- Caller ID users now can block unwanted calls from telemarketers and other callers whose numbers don't appear on Caller ID units. Call Intercept, a new service from Verizon Communications, will screen their incoming calls when callers fail to identify themselves and allow users to decide if they want to receive calls from others who announce themselves.
"This product has the power of a junkyard dog, guarding customers' privacy and helping control incoming calls," said Debra Swann, Verizon's vice president of consumer product management. "People just sitting down to dinner won't get those unidentified solicitation calls. Call Intercept will let you know if a call is from a telemarketer or a friend you've been waiting to hear from."
In the next two weeks, Call Intercept will be available to Verizon customers in the Philadelphia and Washington D.C. metropolitan areas, Delaware and northern New Jersey (pending tariff approval). Additional markets will be added in coming months.
With Call Intercept, calls that appear as "anonymous," "private," "out of area" or "unavailable" on Caller ID units will be intercepted before the phone rings. Callers hear a message informing them that the subscriber does not accept calls unless identified and requesting them to say who they are. Call Intercept then rings the subscriber's phone, plays the message identifying the caller and provides several options for managing the call. The subscriber may accept or decline the call or send the call to voice mail.
"Call Intercept is a great product for customers who receive a lot of 'anonymous' or 'out of area' calls or who gave up on Caller ID because some incoming calls were unidentified," Swann said. "We expect Call Intercept will be extremely popular because people are tired of phone calls interrupting their privacy and peace at home."
Verizon's Call Intercept also allows subscribers to give a four-digit PIN number to family and friends to bypass the blocking feature when they're calling from a phone line that doesn't provide information to Caller ID devices. Certain types of business lines, pay phones or lines with "per-line blocking" do not pass along the phone number or name to Caller ID devices. Verizon is the first company to provide this bypass feature.
When a Call Intercept rings to announce a caller, the subscriber hears a distinctive ring and "Call Intercept" appears on the Caller ID display. When the subscriber answers, the service identifies itself and plays the recorded name. The subscriber then has these options:
- To accept the call, the customer presses "1" and the call is connected.
- To decline the call, the customer presses "2" and hears, "The person you are calling is not available. Thank you. Goodbye."
- To refuse a sales call, the subscriber presses "3" and the caller hears, "The person you are calling does not accept phone solicitations. Please add them to your do-not-call list. Thank you. Goodbye."
- Pressing "4" sends the call to Verizon's Home Voice Mail service and allows callers to leave a voice mail message for the person they are calling.
- Pressing "5" replays the caller's name.
Throughout the process, the caller remains on hold listening to the hold music.
Callers who encounter Call Intercept hear: "The number you are calling has Call Intercept, a service that requires callers whose telephone numbers do not appear on the Caller ID display to identify themselves before the call can continue. To record your name, please press the pound key or simply stay on the line. At the tone, please say your name or the company you represent. Then press the pound key." Callers who record their name, then hear, "Thank you, please hold." The caller then hears hold music while the subscriber receives the call.
To activate the bypass feature, friends and family members simply enter the PIN at any time during the initial Call Intercept greeting. The words "Priority Caller" will appear on the subscriber's Caller ID unit.
Call Intercept is $5 a month. Customers also must subscribe to Caller ID with name. Call Intercept is $4 monthly if purchased with select Verizon packages.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 100 million access line equivalents and more than 26 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.