Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Thursday, December 7, 2000

long distance for
Web-site hit?

Question: I'm sure you must have had several calls about people connecting to a Web site and automatically being billed by a long-distance carrier, such as AT&T. I didn't know I was being connected to Vanuatu and it cost me $34. The second time this happened, I tried to disconnect and was unable to. Now AT&T wants me to pay the $34. Someone illegally obtained my phone number through my Internet service provider and connected me to this foreign country, without my consent or knowledge. Can you help?

Answer: Not if you somehow made the connection yourself.

You may have to chalk this up as a $34 lesson learned that, in order to access certain Web sites, if your computer is hooked up to a telephone line, a long-distance phone charge may be involved.

AT&T spokesman George Irion said he didn't know if this was what happened in your case, but generally, calls to Vanuatu have been popping up as a concern to customers accessing specific adult Web sites."

But there usually are "sign posts" or warnings that you may be assessed a long-distance phone fee, he said. Usually, you would have to click on to a "yes/no" box to indicate whether you want to access or continue to access such a site, he said. In other words, you are given the option not to click on.

"Essentially, our network doesn't really determine whether we should put the call through or not," Irion said. "It just goes through and just recognizes it as a long distance call, not necessarily a computer call."

The person who receives the phone bill may not necessarily be the person who logged on to these Web sites, he noted.

AT&T will investigate complaints like yours and can verify whether a third-party made the long-distance call and billed it to you.

Irion's advice: If you're going through any Web site, you should be on the lookout for any prompts or warnings to make sure you want to continue.

Engraved in stone?

I just read your Nov. 28 column on how to protect yourself when your Social Security number is stolen. You said the recommendation these days is not to use those numbers, but to put a last name and date of birth. But about 20 years ago, when we were told that we should mark our goodies so that burglars wouldn't want them, we engraved our Social Security number on practically every piece of silver we have. Now, we're old and we don't want to polish it anymore and want to get rid of the silver. How do we get the numbers off silver or anything else we have? -- No Name

(Do any readers have tips on this? If so, please call Kokua Line, 525-8686, and leave a message)


I am here stewing because I just threw everything in the trash bin -- things which I think could be recycled. Salvation Army, Big Brothers, Muscular Dystrophy call you all the time, but they only want things that are in good working condition. Furniture must be in good condition, otherwise they will not accept it. If they were in good condition, we would keep it! This is only one example. My very expensive Kitchen Aid mixing machine needed someone to check the motor, but no, they could not accept it because it was not working. In the old days, they took everything, but now, only if it's in good condition. -- No Name

(Call Honolulu Community College's CENT program (845-8459), in which students repair old TVs, VCRs, small appliances, audio equipment, microwave ovens and newer computers, then distributes them to nonprofit groups.)

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin