Ameritech Goes On Offensive To Fight Cellular Cloning
Problem Costing Industry Millions Daily
Detroit, Michigan, February 8, 1996
For further information, contact:
Cheryl Conway, Ameritech, 810/737-5367 Jonathan James, Ameritech, 313/223-7194 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The number may be up for high-tech thieves who have made a handsome living out of stealing cellular phone numbers. Ameritech is launching an effort that will make it virtually impossible to use a stolen cellular number.
Ameritech Cellular announces that the new technology being used in other parts of the country will become a standard and required part of their customer's cellular service. The move is aimed to combat the most popular form of fraud: cellular cloning. Cloning occurs when your cellular number is obtained by thieves using an electronic scanning device. The cellular number is then programmed into another phone and used to make large quantities of calls. The high bills go to the original unsuspecting customer.
"Every day, more and more of our customers suffer from the inconvenience of cellular fraud," said Deborah J. Ravetta, Ameritech regional vice president/market manager. "While our customers are not required to pay the charges incurred, they must report the crime, go over detailed billing records and have their cellular number changed." The end result for the cellular companies is millions of dollars in losses every year. Cellular cloning costs the cellular industry more than $1 million a day and is projected to be a $1 billion problem in 1996.
The technology Ameritech is launching for cellular customers is based on the Personal Identification Number, or PIN. Similar to authorization codes used for bank automatic teller machines or credit cards, a PIN is a four-digit number the customer selects and enters when they place a cellular call. All new Ameritech cellular customers receive their free PIN automatically when they sign up for service.
"We will be contacting all of our existing cellular customers between now and mid-1996 to convert everyone to this PIN technology," said Ravetta. "Customers don't need to purchase new or special equipment. We believe that implementing PIN is critical to our ability to continue to deliver quality service and assure that our customers experience the convenience and peace of mind that cellular service provides." There is no charge to activate a PIN.
The company views PIN as an immediate solution to fight cloning but not a long-term one. Ameritech is currently testing even more sophisticated technology that will provide some long-term solutions.
Once a PIN is activated, the customer enters the telephone number they are calling and presses "SEND." After two quick rings, the four- digit PIN is entered and the customer presses "SEND" again. The cellular call is then placed. Even if a cellular number is illegally obtained, a thief cannot place outgoing calls without the PIN. PINs are not required to dial 9-1-1 or cellular customer service at *6-1-1. Ameritech will be testing newer PIN technology that makes it more convenient to use.
Ameritech encourages customers who have not yet been contacted to call the company and activate their PIN immediately to avoid being cloned. Cellular customers should contact Ameritech at 1-800-221-0994 or *611 from their cellular phone.
Ameritech, one of the world's largest communications companies, helps more than 13 million customers keep in touch. The company provides a wide array of local phone, data and video services in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Ameritech is creating dozens of new information, entertainment and interactive services for homes, businesses and governments around the world.
One of the world's leading cellular companies, Ameritech serves more than 1.9 million cellular and almost 750,000 paging customers, and has cellular interests in Norway, China and Poland. Ameritech owns interests in telephone companies in New Zealand and Hungary and in business directories in Germany and other countries. Nearly 1 million investors hold Ameritech (NYSE: AIT) shares. Ameritech's Internet site is located at: www.ameritech.com.