Consumer Hotline Offers Round-the-Clock Y2K Help

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A phone service of the President?s Council on Year 2000 Conversion is getting Y2K information to people who don?t have an Internet connection.

The toll-free consumer information line, operated by the Federal Trade Commission and the General Services Administration, offers personal and computerized answers to any and all Y2K-related questions. So far, calls have been coming in at a rate of about 750 a day.

Callers have the option of either speaking with an information specialist or listening to prerecorded messages about Y2K preparation. The prerecorded messages cover questions about banking, personal computers, airlines, telecommunications, electricity, food supply, what the government is doing and how to prepare for possible inconveniences or loss of services.

'We continue to monitor the kinds of questions that are coming in and expand the hotline subsequently,' Jack Gribben of the council?s press office said.

Fifteen percent of callers choose to speak with an information specialist, said Gribben. Staff chuckle over some of the questions that come in, he said. For example: 'Do we need any special vaccinations to protect us from Y2K?' The answer is no, said Gribben, adding that the hotline operators treat all questions seriously and will research a question when they don't know the answer.

According to Gribben, since its debut Jan. 7, the hotline has received approximately 143,000 calls, an average of about 750 calls per day.

Operators keep track of demographics by requesting the ZIP codes of callers. Not surprisingly, states with larger populations rank higher in terms of call volume.

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