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Be wary of phony telephone charges, commissioner warns

Published January 29. 2010 05:00PM

Check your phone bill for any fraudulent charges, one Carbon County official says.

Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein warns residents that there has been scams happening that place extra charges on your phone bill.

He explained that he noticed a charge for $14.95 for an MP3 download on his land line number.

"This charge, when I called and inquired, was for the company ESBI," Nothstein said, adding that he later learned that another county employee experienced a similar thing, but he had been charged over $180 for programs and applications that he never downloaded.

The money, he said, was reimbursed by the company.

"These are charges that are being put on your phone bills without your knowledge," Nothstein said. "(This is) some type of scam, but how they get in there we don't know. I want to warn the public to check their phone bills and make sure there are legitimate expenses on there. Take your time and look at your phone bill, scrutinize it and make that phone call if you have questions."

Nothstein added that ESBI is not the only company that has put charges on people's phones so he urges people to be careful.

When completing a search for ESBI on the Better Business Bureau Web site, all hits that come up for such a company have no accreditation; have a BBB rating between C and F; and have multiple complaints against them.

In other matters, the Carbon County Communications 2009 Annual Report has been released.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, announced that the reports shows that the county's communication center; as well as emergency departments are handling a lot more calls and emergency situations.

"The call volume for the police, fire and EMS, has increased by about 6,000 from 2008 to 2009," O'Gurek said. "I think that speaks volumes of the growth in Carbon County. Our dispatchers handled about 140,000 calls."

Out of the 64,964 incidents handled by the dispatchers in 2009, 49,837 were police calls, 3,118 were fire calls and 12,009 were EMS calls.

This rising trend in call volume has been occurring since 2002 when 35,600 incidents were handled.

O'Gurek pointed out that the county has been working on a few upgrades that will enhance the communications center system. They include working with East Penn, Kidder and Banks townships to obtain address information; reviewing mapping solutions; installing equipment on the Summit Hill tower site to enhance communication in the area; complete the fiber connectivity project between the communication center and the prison; and completing upgrades to mapping software.

The center also received a $651,273.20 Act 56 wireless grant through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Wireless funding program for use at the facility.

The Carbon County Communications Center is staffed by 22 individuals trained in emergency situations. They handle calls from all municipalities in the county. They also provide educational programs to girl scout troops, schools, and more.

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