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New phone directories, envelopes on the way

July 04, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- New phone books are in the mail in Washington County, replacing copies of a directory that accidentally included thousands of private listings.

Verizon spokeswoman Sandra Arnette said Wednesday that new directories were mailed about a week ago. Some people have received the new phone books.

Prepaid envelopes for people to send back the original directories also were mailed last week, Arnette said.

While providing names, addresses and phone numbers to Ogden Directories for a Washington County phone book, Verizon accidentally included about 11,000 unlisted and nonpublished listings, angering law enforcement officers and victims of domestic violence, among others.

Ogden's 2008-09 EZ To Use Big Book was distributed throughout the county about a month ago.

The Maryland Public Service Commission directed Verizon to answer questions about the mistake at a hearing in Baltimore on June 5.

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As of Thursday, the commission hadn't decided if or when it would take action against Verizon, according to PSC spokeswoman LaWanda Edwards.

Verizon has apologized and blamed the problem on a computer malfunction.

Verizon and Ogden are working to recall the old directories and send out new ones that don't contain private information.

Arnette has said each person who returns one of the earlier directories in a prepaid envelope will get a $5 gift card.

Verizon has promised customers whose private listings appeared in the Ogden directory that they'll get a $25 credit, the approximate cost of having an unlisted phone number for one year.

Customers can change their private phone numbers at no charge.

Verizon has said it will pay up to $1,000 for the cost of each security system for people whose safety might be at risk because their private information was published.

Arnette did not know on Wednesday how many security systems Verizon had paid for.

A small number of Washington County residents who have AT&T as their local-service provider were affected, too, AT&T spokeswoman Alexa Kaufman said.

AT&T is required to provide directory information about its customers to Verizon, she said.

AT&T is providing a $35 credit to affected customers, she said.

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