DENVER, October 14, 2004 ? To combat the growing epidemic of identity fraud, Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE:Q) today introduced a first-of-its-kind customer protection program to help consumers protect themselves from the threat of identity theft.
Qwest has developed three resources to educate consumers about the dangers of fraud and identity theft, how to help prevent it, and what to do if their identity is stolen. Qwest?s program includes an informational video, developed in partnership with the Denver District Attorney?s office, and a Web site with additional identity theft protection information. In addition, Qwest?s program includes a third component to address consumers between the ages of 12 and 21, the largest users of the Internet and wireless phones?common targets for identity thieves. The company will host a landmark teen education summit designed to specifically address identity theft risks for this age group.
- Identity theft is one of the fastest growing financial crimes in the United States. According to the market?s official governmental watchdog agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2003 alone, nearly 10 million Americans had their identities stolen by criminals. In financial terms, the FTC estimates that these thefts cost consumers nearly $5 billion last year.
- While significant in financial terms, the personal costs to consumers who have experienced identity theft are staggering. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years and their hard-earned money?an average of $5,000 to restore a damaged credit rating?cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, are refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.
?Helping customers protect their personal information and technology from identity theft is extremely important to Qwest,? said David J. Heller, Qwest vice president of risk management and chief compliance officer. ?Qwest takes this responsibility seriously and is making it easy for consumers to access resources that educate them in the fight against fraud.?
National Teen Summit?Qwest recognizes that while there are nationwide efforts in place to reduce the incidence of and raise adult awareness about identity theft, teens are being overlooked as a key audience. Qwest will host the 2004 Summit on Protecting Teens from Identity Theft on October 20, 2004 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Denver Marriott City Center. The summit will bring together influential members from business, government, law enforcement, education and civic groups, as well as parents and teens. By arming teens and their families with a heightened sense of awareness and knowledge about identity theft, Qwest hopes to protect more consumers and ultimately reduce the incidence of identity theft across the country. For more information about attending the 2004 Summit on Preventing the Identity Theft of Teens, call (303) 595-8947
Consumer Protection Web Site-Qwest developed www.qwest.com/identitytheft and for youth www.highwayqwest.com/identitytheft to serve as an information hub where consumers can learn about fraud, identity theft and components of the Consumer Protection Program.
Identity Theft Video-Qwest and the Denver District Attorney?s Office worked together to create an informational video, Identity Theft-Don?t Be a Victim, that educates consumers about identity theft and how to prevent it. The video features experts from TransUnion, the Social Security Administration, the Colorado Banker?s Association, Qwest Communications and the Denver District Attorney?s Office, as well as a former identity theft perpetrator. The video will be available to local businesses, civic groups and government offices throughout Qwest?s 14-state region beginning today.
?In the District Attorney?s Office, we routinely prosecute identity thieves. However, in most cases, these crimes can be prevented with increased consumer awareness and vigilance,? said Bill Ritter, the Denver District Attorney. ?Working together with Qwest, we are expanding our identity theft awareness and prevention outreach to help people and organizations learn how to minimize the occurrence of identity theft.?
Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) is a leading provider of voice, video and data services. With more than 40,000 employees, Qwest is committed to the ?Spirit of Service? and providing world-class services that exceed customers? expectations for quality, value and reliability. For more information, please visit the Qwest Web site at www.qwest.com.
Forward Looking Statement Note
This release may contain projections and other forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements may differ materially from actual future events or results. Readers are referred to the documents filed by us with the Securities and Exchange Commission, specifically the most recent reports which identify important risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, including but not limited to: access line losses due to increased competition, including from technology substitution of our access lines with wireless and cable alternatives; our substantial indebtedness, and our inability to complete any efforts to de-lever our balance sheet through asset sales or other transactions; any adverse outcome of the SEC's current investigation into our accounting policies, practices and procedures and certain transactions; any adverse outcome of the current investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in Denver into certain matters relating to us; adverse results of increased review and scrutiny by Congress, regulatory authorities, media and others (including any internal analyses) of financial reporting issues and practices or otherwise; rapid and significant changes in technology and markets; any adverse developments in commercial disputes or legal proceedings, including any adverse outcome of current or future legal proceedings related to matters that are the subject of governmental investigations, and, to the extent not covered by insurance, if any, our inability to satisfy any resulting obligations from funds available to us, if any; potential fluctuations in quarterly results; volatility of our stock price; intense competition in the markets in which we compete including the likelihood of certain of our competitors emerging from bankruptcy court protection or otherwise reorganizing their capital structure and competing effectively against us; changes in demand for our products and services; acceleration of the deployment of advanced new services, such as broadband data, wireless and video services, which could require substantial expenditure of financial and other resources in excess of contemplated levels; higher than anticipated employee levels, capital expenditures and operating expenses; adverse changes in the regulatory or legislative environment affecting our business; and changes in the outcome of future events from the assumed outcome included in our significant accounting policies.
The information contained in this release is a statement of Qwest's present intention, belief or expectation and is based upon, among other things, the existing regulatory environment, industry conditions, market conditions and prices, the economy in general and Qwest's assumptions. Qwest may change its intention, belief or expectation, at any time and without notice, based upon any changes in such factors, in Qwest's assumptions or otherwise. The cautionary statements contained or referred to in this release should be considered in connection with any subsequent written or oral forward-looking statements that Qwest or persons acting on its behalf may issue. This release may include analysts' estimates and other information prepared by third parties for which Qwest assumes no responsibility.
Qwest undertakes no obligation to review or confirm analysts' expectations or estimates or to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
By including any information in this release, Qwest does not necessarily acknowledge that disclosure of such information is required by applicable law or that the information is material.
The Qwest logo is a registered trademark of Qwest Communications International Inc. in the U.S. and certain other countries.