Telephone Service

Safelink Wireless

If you are eligible for Lifeline and interested in applying the benefit to Tracfone's wireless service, you can apply by calling 1800 SAFELINK. Tracfone's SafeLink service offers a free handset and 250 free wireless minutes per month (as well as other options). See these Community Action Program contacts in your area to assist in acquiring Safelink Service. Available SafeLink Companies (PDF) (You will need the free Adobe Reader to view this document.)

Company Phone Service Area Approval Date Offer
Safelink Wireless 1-800-Safelink Most of FP territory 2/2010 250 mins (LD, text) w/o rollover

125 mins (LD, text) w/ rollover

68 mins (LD, text) w/ rollover & international
Assurance Wireless
(Virgin Mobile)
1-888-898-4888 Up to Gardiner not in Augusta or beyond 8/2011 250 free voice minutes

$5 for 500 total voice minutes w/ text & international

$20 for 1000 minutes and 1000 texts
TSI ReachOut
(Nexus Communications)
1-866-392-7123

1-877-870-9444
No Maine Sites

(They have begun outreach)
8/2011 250 minutes
Cintex (Liberty Wireless) 1-800-826-0337 Most of FP Territory 8/2011 90 voice minutes (LD) w/ rollover text, international available for purchase
YourTel 1-855-299-9990 Most of FP Territory 9/2011 250 voice/text minutes- no rollover

Telemarketing

Many companies call you at home, time and time again, in an effort to try and sell you something. And while most of these calls are legitimate sales calls, they can be an annoyance.

Consumers have the right to register their phone number on the FTC's Do Not Call List. You can log on to www.donotcall.gov to do so. In addition Maine State Law provides for penalties against telemarketers who call after being told to stop.

If you wish to make a formal complaint about a company that continues to call you, even after you have registered with that the "Do Not Call" list, you may make a complaint online also at www.donotcall.gov.

Phone Fraud

1. Warning

When someone calls and wants to sell you something over the phone, be careful before you buy anything or give out any information, such as your credit card number, or any personal information.

While there are many honest, legitimate companies selling over the phone, telephone fraud is on the rise. There are those who use the phone to deceive, cheat or swindle people. Telemarketers can be very convincing and sound completely legitimate. However, always question anything that sounds too good to be true especially things like travel deals, good investments and valuable prizes. Ask for a copy of any offer, in writing, before you agree to anything.

2. Warning

You should also be aware of anyone who calls asking for you to accept telephone charges.

If someone calls you and says they are a representative from a telephone company or from the FCC, they should never ask you to accept telephone charges. Legitimate representatives of these organizations will never ask you for your name, address, phone number or the name of any friends or relatives you may have living in other countries.

In addition, other personal questions or requests for your credit card numbers should be a warning that the call could be a fraud attempt.

If you think that a call is a fraud attempt, hang up. If the problem persists, you may call your local phone company or law enforcement officials.

3. Warning

Keep a careful eye when using a public phone to make toll calls.

There are people who make a practice out of standing behind you while you are at a pay phone, and watching while you use your calling card. They copy your calling card number, as you punch it in, and when you are finished calling, they step up and use your number, thus charging their toll calls to you.

It is important for you to be aware of people around you when using a public telephone. Use a phone which reads your card using the magnetic strip, or memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN), and dial this number discreetly. Do not write your PIN on your calling card. Immediately report all lost or stolen calling cards the way you would a credit card.

Your chances of becoming a victim of fraud are much greater around the holidays and at vacation spots.

In Maine, you may call 1-800-452-4699 and a Consumer Specialist will assist you.

Your Right To Privacy

Many people wish they had more privacy when it comes to the telephone. What they may not know is that there are laws in place that protect consumer privacy. Be aware that you have certain privacy rights.

Caller ID: A Caller ID device can be installed on a telephone, and display the name & number of the person calling that phone. If you have this popular device on your phone, you'll be able to see who's calling and determine if you do or do not wish to speak with the caller before answering.

You may decide that you do not want your phone number displayed on someone else's Caller ID device. You have the right to block your number.

If you choose complete line blocking*, your number will automatically be blocked for every call you make. If you call someone who has a Caller ID device on their phone, that person will only see "Private" or "P" appear on their device. Note: this service is available to any customer who states that they have a health or safety concern.

If you choose selective blocking* or per-call blocking*, your phone number is sent to the parties you are calling, and will appear on their display device unless you dial *67 on a touch tone phone or dial 1167 on a rotary phone, before dialing their number.

There is no way of knowing whether the person you are calling has a Caller ID device, but if you are concerned about having your number displayed, then choose a blocking option. For more information regarding blocking options, you can also refer to the front pages of your telephone book.

Be aware that if you elect Caller ID blocking, your phone number may not display on your area's emergency contact operator's Caller ID system, although it will display on a 911 emergency contact system. Make sure to ask your phone company how your Caller ID selection will affect display of your number on your area's emergency contact system. Also be aware that some customers use "Anonymous Cal Rejection" and those customers cannot be reached if you block caller id.

  • Calls to 800, 888, and 900 numbers may not be Caller ID blocked.
  • Blocking options are free. Caller ID services involve monthly charges.

Unwanted or Harassing Calls

Obscene or threatening phone calls are frightening and annoying. They are an invasion of privacy. You have rights when it comes to unwanted or harassing calls. There are programs available through local telephone companies which trace these types of calls. You can activate Call Trace by dialing *57 immediately after you hang up from an harassing call. If your problem isn't solved by using Call Trace, contact your local phone company to discuss further options.

In some instances there are fees for obtaining these services, and phone companies, while their services can be very helpful, do not guarantee that trapping or tracing will stop harassing calls from reaching you.

If you are receiving these calls on a regular basis, you may wish to install an answering machine and let the machine answer all of your calls. Your message might alert the callers that all of your calls are being traced. Ask your phone company for advice on how to handle these types of calls most effectively.

In addition, there are a number of newer "custom calling" options being marketed by local phone companies which may also assist in ending unwanted or harassing calls. These services include:

  • Call Block*: Your phone can be programmed to reject calls from select numbers. Your phone can be programmed to reject calls from select numbers.
  • Special Call Acceptance*: You can stop all calls from ringing except those you specifically program your phone to accept.
  • Call Return*: This service allows you to call back the number of the last person who called you, even if you were unable to answer the phone. Caution: Using call return can transmit your number to the party who called
  • Priority Ringing*: Your phone can be programmed to ring in two different ways, allowing you to accept certain calls and reject others.

* Each telephone company has its own brand names & fees for these services.

Be Aware of 900/976 numbers

900/976 numbers are pay-per-service calls. Dialing these phone numbers will always cost you money. They provide information on a variety of topics such as: financial matters, personal horoscopes, sports, and legal advice.

These numbers also provide the caller with entertainment such as: dial-a-joke, trivia, contests, dating services, and sexually explicit conversations.

They are also used to sell products such as books, perfumes, magazines, and travel packages.

The 900 /976 numbers are created by companies calling themselves "information providers" and they often provide the caller with tape recorded messages, allowing the caller to select what they want to hear about by using the buttons on their touch tone phones.

Warning: Some 900 / 976 calls do not deliver what their ads suggest, and all these numbers you dial will show up on your monthly phone bill -- some for $2.00 per minute or more.

Warning: Some 900/976 calls are repetitive, put callers on hold while they are paying a per minute charge, hang up in the middle of the call forcing the caller to call back and pay a higher first minute charge, charge a flat rate so that the call is expensive even if it is short and/or refer callers to another 900 / 976 number so that two calls must be made.

Warning: Be aware of international pay-per-services, and excess charges associated with making these calls. Some Caribbean countries can be dialed just as if you were calling another state. Before making international calls, check with your long distance phone company about the least expensive way to dial these numbers.

Know Your Rights Re: 900/976 numbers

You cannot lose your phone service for failing to pay charges for 900/976 numbers you call, although you may lose your right to continue to make these types of calls.

Calls that cost more than $2.00/minute must disclose the cost at the start of the call.

Callers who hear only the initial message and then immediately hang up may not be charged for the call.

Callers can get a refund for calls if they have a reasonable complaint, such as poor transmission quality, poor quality of the service, or a dispute over the amount of the 900 charge.

Complaints should be directed to your local phone company.

If you are unable to come to a resolution with your phone company then contact:

The Federal Communications Commission
Common Carrier Bureau
Mail Stop Code 1600A2
Washington DC 20554

Have You Been Slammed?

Slamming is when your chosen long-distance company is switched to another company without your consent or knowledge. Slamming could affect your long distance services, and end up costing you more money.

Although interstate Slamming is against the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) Rules, from time to time, it does happen. If you fall victim to this practice, you have rights you need to be aware of.

If you have been slammed (your long distance service has been switched without your consent or knowledge), and you receive higher phone bills because of this practice, you have some protections. If your service is slammed, you will not be required to pay any bill from the unauthorized company.

If your service is slammed, you should call the Public Utilities Commission at 1-800-452-4699 and report the slamming.

Long distance companies must obtain your authorization in order to switch your service. One method of authorization is a Letter of Agency (LOA). This indicates, in writing, that you have agreed to be a customer of a specific long distance company. Your long distance company can provide you with a form which you can sign. By signing such a form, your preferred carrier cannot be switched, unless you decide to make a change. This is also called a PIC Freeze.

Be aware of some, more confusing authorization forms, especially when they are combined with contest entries, prizes, even personal checks. Read the fine print on any offer.

Be aware of misleading marketing techniques that result in slamming: sweepstakes, checks made out to you from telephone companies, contests, or other gimmicks. If what you are hearing about or receiving in the mail seems too good to be true, it probably is. Remember don't sign anything until you have read the fine print thoroughly.