TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: 900fraud.txt

News story on 900 numbers fraud

   AUSTIN, Texas (UPI) _ The telephone industry's 900-number services are a 
haven for con artists and have emerged as the most significant vehicle for 
consumer fraud in recent history, Attorney General Dan Morales said Wednesday.  
   Morales released an analysis of 900-number fraud prepared by a task force of 
attorneys general from nine states that details a number of fradulent practices 
such as phoney job offers, misleading credit card solicitations and supposedly 
free vacations with enormous hidden costs.  
   The report also concluded that most 900-number advertising either fails to 
disclose or grossly understates the actual cost of the calls.    
   ``Nine-hundred numbers have become a haven for anonymous con artists who 
have taken advantage of the industry's enormous growth and the lack of any 
meaningful regulation to perpetrate fraud after fraud upon
consumers,'' Morales said.  
   According to the report, long-distance companies such as AT&T and MCI are in 
the best position to police 900-number services because they carry 900-number 
calls on their networks and handle the billing of customers.    
   The report recommends that the long-distance carriers require 900- number 
companies to disclose the acutal cost of 900-number calls in all their 
advertising and refuse to handle 900 numbers that are targeted at children.  
   Consumers should also be told at the beginning of each
900-number call how 
much the call will cost and be given a chance to hang up at no charge, the 
report said.  
   Morales said the 900-number industry currently generates $750 million a 
yearand estimated it will be taking in $1.6 billion by 1992.    
   ``It clearly serves some useful purposes. However, the 900 industry appears 
to be a magnet for shady operators. This indicates that meaningful regulation 
is lacking and consumers are being defrauded,'' he said.  
   The 900-number task force included attorneys general from Texas, Florida, 
Kansas, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.

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