Ratewatcher, the handy little magazine from the office of the Maine public advocate, recently offered more ideas on how to reduce some telephone charges. Here are some highlights:
For 411 directory service, there’s no need to pay the $1.25 fee from a cell phone or the 40 cents (after three free calls a month) and $1.25 for out-of-state calls from a landline phone. Simply dial 1-800-FREE-411, and you will get your number for nothing.
If you are paying $7.50 a month for caller ID, you can save. Callers can evade the system by dialing *67 to block it or by “spoofing” it with a false calling number. A better system isto use a cheap answering machine to screen calls.
Ratewatcher also has pages of data on local service providers, long-distance plus DSL packages, prepaid calling cards, full service long-distance plans, and monthly-fee wireless plans to help you make the best choices.
If you want to join the 5 million Americans who are already using the Internet to telephone all over the world, there’s a page of suppliers with rates ranging from free to $40 a month.
On an intriguing historical note, the magazine says you may qualify for a refund of a small part of the $300 billion that the government collected, starting in 1898 to help pay for the war with Spain. Federal courts ruled against the tax. The Internal Revenue Service stopped collecting it last July and agreed to refund up to three years of taxes on long-distance bills. Ratewatcher says to check with your tax professional.
To get such help on a monthly basis, you can get on the mailing list be calling the Public Advocate Office. The number is 287-2445, and the Web address is http://www.maine.gov/meopa/index.shtml.