Students: be cautious of phone frau

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    By APRIL HOL

    A computerized shopping service identifying itself as the BYU Redemption Center has been offering prizes to students and alumni in an effort to solicit business over the telephone.

    The BYU Redemption Center does not exist. The shopping service is legitimate, but has been using BYU’s name without any authorization, according to BYU Telephone Services personnel.

    “It is called ‘affinity marketing,'” said BYU Telephone Services Manager Wayne Voorheis. “Companies try to sell you something under a particular name because it is a name you trust. It is just another gimmick.”

    Beginning Jan. 11, BYU operators have been receiving calls from various students and alumni inquiring about the fictitious BYU Redemption Center.

    “Each call has produced a slightly different story,” said BYU Telephone Services Coordinator Christine Oakes.

    Marie Prothero, a graduate student in nursing from Springville, received a call from the center.

    “I was told I had been selected as a prize winner for the BYU Redemption Center and then given a 1-800 number to call,” Prothero said.

    She became suspicious about the BYU-sponsored prize giveaway, especially one that would call her at home on a Sunday.

    Prothero did not give out her full name and address because the telemarketer did not answer her questions to her satisfaction.

    The salesperson claimed that the company “is not associated with BYU, but is ‘affiliated with universities’ and that is how they get their clientele,” Prothero said.

    Upon calling the 1-800 number given out by the company, students were given a list of possible prizes with the stipulation that to collect their prize they had to sign up for a seminar at a local hotel.

    Callers were not informed that the seminar costs money to attend.

    “If people have a question about whether an organization is affiliated with BYU, they should call the BYU telephone office,” Oakes said.

    “The main message is: be careful.

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