Now We've Really Got Your Number

The new phone service known as Caller I.D. is a double-edged sword: it protects the privacy of some people, but at the expense of others. For about $6.50 a month, plus a one-time equipment charge of $45 to $80, customers get an electronic screen that displays the phone number of every incoming call. First offered four years ago in New Jersey by New Jersey Bell, Caller I.D. is now available in 20 states and under consideration in 13 others.

Caller I.D. is being touted as a way to combat obscene and annoying callers. It also gives florists, pizza shops and other...

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