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$6-Million Campaign Targets Phone Scams

September 16, 2003|From Times Staff Reports

A $6-million campaign is under way to protect non-English-speaking Asians and Latinos from unscrupulous practices by suppliers of telephone services.

Groups including the Asian-Pacific American Legal Center of Los Angeles are providing information on consumer rights and remedies regarding illegal switching of phone providers, unauthorized charges and fees, telemarketing, prepaid phone cards, false and misleading advertising and cell phones.

"Though Asian and Hispanic consumers tend to spend more on phone services, they often do not fully understand what their bills mean," said Juliet Stone of the Asian-Pacific American Legal Center.

Almost $5 million of the money came from the settlement of a state Public Utilities Commission probe into alleged marketing abuses by GTE California in Asian and Latino communities. The rest came from a case brought against Communications Telesystems International.

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