Southwestern Bell Steps up Fight in Dallas/Fort Worth Against Wireless Phone Fraud

Education Campaign Helping Customers Protect Themselves From Phone Cloning

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, March 21, 1997

Southwestern Bell today is launching a major educational initiative to help consumers protect themselves from wireless fraud.

Through its new anti-cloning campaign, Southwestern Bell will educate consumers across the country by working with the media and distributing a free informational brochure that offers tips on how to guard against wireless fraud.

Wireless fraud costs the wireless industry approximately $650 million a year. To help combat this high-tech crime, Southwestern Bell has chosen a three-pronged approach which includes:

"Wireless fraud is a growing problem that poses an inconvenience and an aggravation to consumers," said Lowell Whitlock, vice president/general manager, Southwestern Bell Wireless, Dallas/Fort Worth region. "At Southwestern Bell, we pledge to combat wireless fraud, and we are committed to providing the products and services that add convenience, efficiency and security to our customers' lives."

In Dallas/Fort Worth, Southwestern Bell is implementing the latest anti-fraud technologies to help protect its customers. One such technology, the Wireless Fraud Management System (WFMS), gathers detailed information about a customer's call from the mobile switching center. If the information doesn't fit a customer's particular usage profile, an "alarm" occurs within WFMS. Depending on the nature of the alarm, an analyst will notify the customer that fraud is suspected. Utilizing another fraud prevention method called RF Fingerprinting, Southwestern Bell also analyzes wireless phone calls to detect discrepancies from radio signals, electronic serial numbers and phone numbers to end an illegal call before it is complete.

Whitlock explained that most wireless fraud occurs when a thief steals a mobile phone and reprograms it with a stolen phone number and an Electronic Serial Number, or ESN. This practice is known as cloning. Customers are often unaware of the problem until they receive their monthly bill and find hundreds of dollars worth of fraudulent phone charges for calls they did not place.

According to Whitlock, Southwestern Bell's policy is to remove all fraudulent charges from its customers' bills.

"We will remain in the front line in the battle against wireless fraud, arming our customers with the information they need to protect themselves," Whitlock continued. "Southwestern Bell, however, can not solve the problem alone. Consumers must protect themselves by understanding the problem and knowing their rights."

The following are ways consumers can guard against wireless fraud:

Customers who suspect they are a victim of wireless fraud should immediately dial *611 to reach Southwestern Bell's free customer service line 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week. A customer service representative will resolve the problem, remove all fraudulent charges and answer questions.

For more information about wireless fraud, consumers can send for a free informational brochure, by writing to "Who's Got Your Number?," Southwestern Bell/Cellular One, P.O. Box 1899, St. Louis, Missouri, 63043.

SBC Communications Inc. is one of the world's leading diversified telecommunications companies, with tens of millions of customers in 13 U.S. states and eight countries. Through its subsidiaries, it provides innovative communications services under the Southwestern Bell and Cellular One brands, including local and long-distance telephone, wireless, paging, Internet access, cable TV and messaging services, as well as telecommunications equipment, and directory advertising and publishing. SBC ( reported 1996 revenues of $13.9 billion.