Advanced Phone Services, including Caller ID, Now Available from Verizon in Parts of Skagit County

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EVERETT, Wash. - Verizon customers in many more areas of Skagit County now can use Caller ID to find who's calling before they pick up the phone. They also can program Verizon's network to automatically reject calls coming from certain numbers. And returning a missed call is as simple as entering a three-digit code.

Customers now have the technology to do all that -- and more - as Verizon introduces several new optional services in these areas: La Conner, Edison, Alger, Concrete, Lyman/Hamilton and Marblemount. Verizon is the national communications company formed by the merger of GTE and Bell Atlantic.

"These optional services help people save time, increase productivity and avoid unnecessary aggravation. In short, they improve quality of life," said Mike Howard, Verizon regional customer operations manager. "Many customers have asked for these services, especially Caller ID."

Caller ID permits a customer to see who's calling before the phone is answered, using a display unit that is built in or attached to the phone. Caller ID shows when a friend or family member is calling and can deter harassing calls. It also keeps a record of calls received. Cost of the service is $7 a month.

Callers with unlisted phone numbers and others who wish to protect their privacy can prevent their numbers from showing on a Caller ID unit. This can be done on a per-call or "all-calls" basis. Complete blocking of all calls must be ordered from Verizon. Both privacy options are free.

Other new advanced services include:

Anonymous Call Block: This service, which can be activated by Caller ID customers, blocks calls when callers have prevented their phone number from being displayed on a Caller ID unit. Callers hear an announcement telling them their call will not go through unless they allow their number to be displayed. The cost is 25 cents a month.

Automatic Busy Redial: This service keeps trying a busy number for up to 30 minutes. When the call can go through, the person trying to call is alerted with a special ring. Cost of the service is $5 a month.

Automatic Call Return: Callers enter the code *69 on their phone and it automatically dials the number of the last call received, whether the call was answered or not. The cost is $5 a month.

Call Tracing: This service will be available on local phone lines starting Jan. 30. No subscription is required. By entering *57 after a threatening or harassing call, the caller's number is captured by Verizon's phone equipment. If the customer reports the call to law enforcement, Verizon can provide the number to authorities investigating the incident.

Call Block: This security feature rejects calls from up to 12 numbers chosen by the customer. The caller hears a recorded message when the call is not completed. The monthly charge is $3.

Distinctive Ring: This feature provides two different phone numbers for the same phone line, each with its own ring. For example, this would allow a family to have one number for the adults and one for the children. The distinctive ring will indicate who should answer a call. The cost is $6 a month. Special Call Acceptance: This allows a customer to select specific phone numbers (12 maximum) from which they want to receive calls. Callers that dial from a phone number not on the list will hear an announcement that the called party is not presently accepting calls. The monthly charge is $3.

Special Call Forwarding: Customers can use this customized call forwarding service to specify which calls (from as many as 12 different numbers) should be forwarded. Customers do not need to have regular Call Forwarding to subscribe to this service. The monthly charge is $5.

VIP Alert: This service identifies with a special ring those callers (up to 12 phone numbers) selected by a customer as "Very Important People." The monthly charge is $3.

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