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State officials on Monday announced a new program to help Utahns know what they're getting into when they dial "900" numbers to participate in contests, carry on conversations with strangers, or other activities.

The Telecommunications Information Project, also known as TIP, will also use advertising to educate consumers about calling-card and business phone system theft.The state Attorney General's office, Public Service Commission and Department of Commerce have joined several private telecommunications companies to produce the advertisements.

Utahns with questions about telecommunications can call 1-800-733-4500 for answers, although the program will not serve as an arbitrator in disputes between customers and service providers.

Attorney General Paul Van Dam said there have been many abuses of 900 numbers and advised consumers to be award of the charges involved before making such a call.

"It's a potential hazard to their pocketbook," the attorney general said.