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NEW YORK -- Many Verizon customers across the country no longer have to put up with an onslaught of unwanted phone calls during dinner or the children's story time. It's all because of Call Intercept, Verizon's fastest growing new service that puts consumers in control of every incoming call.
Since January, Verizon's Call Intercept service has kept customers' phones from ringing 430 million times. That's 430 million unidentified, unwanted calls.
"Call Intercept is a silent watchdog," said Toby Frank, executive director of Call Management Services for Verizon. "If you're just sitting down to dinner, you'll be able to enjoy your meal without interruptions from unidentified solicitation calls. Call Intercept will keep the phone from ringing when it's a telemarketer calling and will let you know there's a call from a friend you've been waiting to hear from."
Nearly 900,000 consumers have the Verizon service that works in conjunction with Caller ID. If no phone number appears on a Caller ID display, Call Intercept intercepts the call and gives callers an opportunity to record their name. About 85 percent of the time, callers hang up when they hear the Call Intercept announcement and that means the phone never rings, so the Call Intercept customer is not disturbed. If the caller does record their name, the phone rings and the recording is played for the customer, who can then decide whether to take the call.
"This service is so effective, you don't even know it's there," Frank said. "New subscribers will quickly notice that their phones just don't ring as much, and they have much more control over calls when it does."
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 unidentified calls and requests that they identify themselves by name or organization. After callers record a message Call Intercept 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 it to voice mail.
Verizon's Call Intercept also allows subscribers to give a four-digit PIN (personal identification number) to family and friends so they can bypass the blocking feature when they're calling from a phone line that doesn't provide the phone number 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 was the first company to provide this bypass feature.
When 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 the caller 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 is on hold listening to music.
When a call is intercepted by Call Intercept the caller hears: "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. 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 music while the subscriber receives the call.
To use the bypass feature, friends and family members enter the PIN during the Call Intercept greeting. The words "Priority Caller" will appear on the subscriber's Caller ID unit.
Verizon's Call Intercept service is available in New York, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas, Hawaii, Vermont and Washington. Additional states will be added in coming months.
Call Intercept is $5 a month. Customers also must subscribe to Caller ID with name, which is $7.95 a month. Call Intercept is $4 monthly if purchased with select Verizon packages.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) 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 135.1 million access line equivalents and 30.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and approximately 241,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.