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Cellular Fraud Can Be Prevented

January 14, 1996

Your article on Dec. 18 implies that all local cellular phone providers offer a free call-blocking service. They do not. Individuals should check with their own company and not assume that this is provided for them automatically.

Another misconception is that cloning occurs primarily on phones where the actual unit is stolen. This is not true. Most cloning occurs when you use your phone in places frequented by these thieves, such as areas of high congestion--including airports, busy freeways and the like. Illegal use of your phone by these thieves will be limited if your cellular provider has an active fraud management team, as does my company.

Fraud protection against those who steal a phone and try to activate it to a new number after it has been shut off, has been in place for years. The information is recorded into a stolen phone hotline, and the new carrier the thief attempts to gain service with will refuse to do so, and will report the incident to the proper authorities.

In 1996, new technology will be available on current models that will scramble the customers' pin numbers and code so thoroughly that it will be virtually impossible for thieves to clone numbers with or without having the actual phones.

Finally, the article suggests that a safe place to store a cellular phone is in a car trunk. With today's lightweight, pocket-size equipment, the best place to store your cellular phone is on your person. It's worth it to update to a lighter-weight model and simply take the phone with you.

Thank you for shedding some light on cellular fraud. By being aware of this problem, individuals can help themselves and cellular carriers in combating this crime.

KIM PETERSON

Camarillo

Kim Peterson is regional vice president for AT&T Wireless Services.

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