U.S. Unveils Toll-Free Y2K Info Line

The federal government yesterday unveiled a new toll-free number for consumers about Year 2000 computer problems that offers information on such areas as banking, government programs, the power supply, telephones, and airlines.

President Clinton's Year 2000 czar John Koskinen told a press conference that at this stage it was mostly good news with a high state of readiness in key industries.

"At this point in time we do not think there is any basis for concern about the basic infrastructure in the United States but we are going to continue to monitor that," Koskinen said.

He also promised that the information on the 1-888-USA-4-Y2K number and the Web site would not gloss over problems if they were detected.

"Our goal here is not to reassure the public about areas where we think there are concerns," Koskinen said.

An initiative launched with the Federal Trade Commission, the new number is an effort to reach people who are not necessarily computer savvy or frequent Web surfers.

"Will the lights go on? Will my Social Security check arrive?" were the sorts of questions consumers wanted to know, said FTC consumer protection director Jodie Bernstein.

The Year 2000 problem arises because older computers and programs were often assigned only two digits for the year in dates and may stop working or misread the year 2000 for 1900.

The toll-free number will offer recorded advice 24 hours a day on frequently asked questions and have experts available for additional information from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Source: Reuters/News.com


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