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Businesses warned of phone scheme

March 01, 1998

Businesses warned of phone scheme

Bell Atlantic has issued a warning of a phone scheme that is circulating on the Internet.

In the latest version of an old scheme, a person posing as a representative of the phone company contacts a business under the guise of testing the business' phone service. He asks the person at the other end of the line to push several buttons and hang up.

In many cases, this will give the caller access to the company's telephone account, Bell officials said.

"You get your phone bill and then lo and behold, there are calls to Greece, Turkey, Africa - wherever," said Harry Mitchell, a spokesman for Bell Atlantic.

Mitchell said a company in Virginia within the last month was bilked out of $3,800 in that way. He said someone unsuccessfully tried to pull a similar scheme on a New Jersey firm on Thursday.

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"We're urging customers to be vigilant," Mitchell said.

Bell Atlantic officials said businesses should be wary of calls from people identifying themselves as phone company employees because technicians can test lines and equipment without asking for such access.

Companies should ask callers for more information, such as an employee identification number, a supervisor's name and phone number or other information that could help verify whether the caller is authentic.

Internet users can find more information about phone fraud through the Alliance to Outfox Phone Fraud at (http://www.bellatlantic.com/security/fraud).

- Brendan Kirby

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