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New service hangs up if caller hides number


In the cold war between those who find Caller ID appealing and those who find it appalling, Bell Atlantic is marketing a service that will disconnect callers who try to mask their telephone numbers by using an anti-Caller-ID service, also available from Bell Atlantic Corp.

A division of the Philadelphia-based regional telephone company, Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. of Virginia, said the new service, known as Anonymous Call Rejection, might be so attractive that even people who do not have Caller ID devices may decide to subscribe.

"It's a deterrent to people who block their calls and who could be a pain in the neck," said Susan J. Rubin, Bell Atlantic's product manager for Caller ID.

Often marketed as a deterrent to obscene and prank callers, Caller ID displays the telephone number of incoming callers on a small device beside the telephone.

Some consumer advocates, however, regard Caller ID as an invasion of privacy and a way for businesses to record telephone numbers for commercial purposes. As a result, many states require Bell Atlantic and other carriers to allow callers to block their telephone numbers.

This led inevitably to anti-anti-Caller ID. Someone with anti-Caller ID calling a household with Anonymous Call Rejection will now be told that if they want to complete their calls, they must redial without blocking their numbers. Centel, US West and BellSouth either offer or plan to offer similar services.

The Bell Atlantic service became available last Friday in Northern Virginia. Virginia callers cannot block telephone numbers, but customers in nearby Maryland and Washington can.

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