Utilities—Westchester County, NY
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Telephone System in the U.S.
Local telephone companies and long-distance service companies provide telephone service in the U.S.
Local telephone companies set up and maintain the telephone lines and provide local phone service. The
local telephone company for most of New York is Verizon. If telephone service is not already set up when
you move into your home, you must contact Verizon to start phone service.
Long-distance companies provide long-distance service domestically and internationally. There are
numerous companies to choose from. You will be connected to a long-distance carrier automatically
when you call Verizon to start phone service.
To Start Phone Service
Initialization of phone service can usually be arranged by phone or online.
New Service, Changes to Existing Service and Billing Questions
(no area code needed for in-state dialing, except for 800/888)
Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday 8:00am - 7:00pm Saturday 8:00am - 4:00pm (English, Spanish, Chinese)
Monday - Friday 8:00am - 7:00pm (Russian)
Monday - Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm (Korean)
Monday - Friday 8:30am - 5:00pm (TTY)
Repair (24 hours)
Your area code + 890-6611
*For automated product descriptions and instructions, call 800-523-0559.
There will be an identification and credit check if you have never had telephone service in the U.S. before.
This requires personal identification documents to be faxed to the telephone company, which you will be
instructed on when you call to request service. (It often takes several days to complete this process.) The
credit check requires your Social Security number, but don't worry if you do not have it yet; most
telephone companies will initiate the phone service without it as long as other documentation is in order.
This will include copies of your passport and your international or home country driver’s license.
To complete the account setup, you will be asked your full address, how you would like your name to
appear in the directory listing, type of service and options you choose, which long-distance carrier you
prefer and the type of phone outlets in your home.
Telephone companies charge approximately $42 as a one-time charge for order processing and
telephone number connection and this charge might vary depending on the number of lines needed. In
addition, a deposit of roughly $100 may be required if there is any complication with the credit check.
There can be an option to pay this fee in the first billing or spread it out over several months. (This
deposit is usually refunded within one year as long as your bills are paid on time. If credit remains a
problem, the deposit may be held as security and applied to your final bill when you disconnect service.)
If inside work is necessary, such as installing additional phone lines or repairing existing lines, this is
billed at an additional charge; typically, there is an initial charge of about $42 for the service person to
come to your home and a labor rate of about $16 for each 15 minutes of work done. There is also a
charge for materials. This charge will vary, so it is important to ask about the fees.
Telephone companies offer numerous specialized services, each at an additional monthly charge and
sometimes with an initial setup charge. Some popular options include:
"Call Waiting," where a second call may be received while on the line with the initial call.
"Call Forwarding," where calls can be forwarded to another phone.
"Caller ID,” which allows you to see the telephone number or name of the caller before you
answer the phone. You may need to obtain a separate piece of equipment for this, or
you can purchase a phone with this option built into it.
"Home Voice Mail,” a 24-hour automated answering service. You may prefer to purchase an
If you prefer not to have your number published, request the "Nonlisted Phone Number" option.
Information on optional services is available in the front of your telephone directory, or call the telephone
company for more information.
Long-distance services vary greatly and are extremely competitive. It is best to talk to several companies
and compare their current offers. When speaking to them, ask about international long-distance service.
Often, they will offer a special rate if you call one country frequently. Many times, these companies will
negotiate a good rate for you to get your business. However, beware of short-term offers that may
increase the rate after six months of use. Clarify the length of the offer as well as the services that are
covered. Rates may also vary according to the time of day you are calling. Typically, calls made between
7:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M. are more expensive.
Some large long-distance service companies are:
AT&T 800-222-0300 www.att.com
MCI/WorldCom 800-950-5555 www.mci.com
Sprint 800-777-4681 www.sprint.com
Credit Calling Cards
Long-distance companies offer calling cards for making phone calls from public phone’s (or any location)
and having the charges billed to your account on your phone bill. (The rates may be considerably higher
than regular call rates.) Calling cards are common in the U.S. because of their convenience when away
Prepaid Calling Cards
Numerous companies sell prepaid calling cards. These are usually available in minute increments. For
example, you may purchase a 60-minute card for $10. These are convenient, especially for children or
teens who do not have access to credit cards. Prepaid calling cards are available in grocery stores, drug
stores, gas stations, etc.
Monthly Phone Bill
Although long-distance service and local phone line service are separate services provided by different
companies, billing for both may be included in one monthly phone bill for the sake of convenience and
simplicity, depending on the long-distance carrier you choose. You will get a monthly phone bill from the
telephone company, which will itemize all local charges first, followed by charges from your long-distance
Telephone Directory Books
A telephone directory of local numbers is complimentary from the telephone company when new service
is ordered. You will find it to be a valuable source of information about the community in which you live.
The telephone directory is usually divided into several sections:
"White Pages" ----------- numbers of local residents and businesses
"Blue Pages" ------------- numbers of local, county, state and federal government offices in the area
“Yellow Pages" ---------- a valuable consumer guide of businesses and services in the area
Telephone directories contain other useful information, often in the front of the book:
Descriptions of the services that the local telephone company offers
Area-code directory for the entire United States
International dialing instructions
Time-zone map for the United States and the entire world
Zip-code listings for the local area
Emergency numbers and procedures
Some telephone directories also include:
An overview of your community with maps
Points of interest and recreation information
Information for cultural and sporting events
Theaters and museums, sports facilities, along with floor plans for seating
Useful community numbers
You may also receive several other telephone directories published by different companies that contain
different types of information. However, the general telephone listings will usually be the same for each
community. Rely on your local telephone directories as an important resource as you become acquainted
with your new community.
Directory Assistance via Phone
Directory Assistance is also available from the telephone company via the phone to assist you in finding
phone numbers. For any inquiries to Directory Assistance, you will need to know the proper business or
resident name, plus the correct city or town. You will be charged for directory assistance calls when made
from a private phone.
For Directory Assistance, dial 411.
Making Phone Call:
Telephone numbers in the U.S. are usually a 7-digit number preceded by a 3-digit area code. Telephone
numbers beginning with "800," "888" or "877" are toll-free numbers. Be careful of telephone numbers
beginning with "900." These are usually chargeable at a higher rate and the cost per minute should often
be advised up front.
Local call within your area code: 7-digit number
Call outside of your area code: 1 + area code + 7-digit number
Toll-free call: 1 + 800 (or 888 or 877) + 7-digit number
Operator-assisted call: 0 + area code + 7-digit number
Credit-card call: Follow the instructions from your credit-card provider
Directory assistance: 411
Emergency Assistance Call: 911
To make a coin call from a public phone, you will usually need to deposit 35¢ (no pennies) for a 3-minute
local call from most pay phones. If you dial the number directly without coins, an automated message will
advise you how much to deposit. Dialing procedures are the same as above. (Directory-assistance calls,
emergency calls (911) and toll-free calls require no coin deposit.)
Cellular/PCS Phone Service
Cellular phone service can be surprisingly difficult to obtain. There are two reasons for this: First, cellular
phones are a credit nightmare for the cellular industry. More people ring up huge bills using cellular
services than any other utility. For this reason, cellular companies are extremely careful when granting
access. Second, if you are coming from another country, you have no credit history in the U.S. You may
do best to look for companies that offer prepaid plans.
Using Your Existing Phone or Not
If you have an existing phone, you may or may not be able to use it. To find out more, you will need to
contact a local cellular service provider. Utilize the company web sites to identify the office in your region.
The main cellular/PCS providers in the New York area are:
AT&T Wireless 800-462-4463 www.attws.com
Digital Advantage (Local), Regional Advantage, Digital One Rate, AT&T Family Plan - New Prepaid
Verizon Wireless 800-922-0204 www.verizonwireless.com
Digital Choice (Local), Single Rate East, Single Rate USA, Prepaid Wireless
Sprint/Nextel 800-Sprint-1 www.sprint.com
Sprint PCS Local Plans, Free & Clear Plans (National)
Digital Cellular, Nextel Direct Connect, National Plans, Nextel Worldwide
T-Mobile 800-937-8997 www.t-mobile.com
Northeast Neighborhood, North American Neighborhood
A suggestion: Some companies offer a discounted rate if you inquire through personnel.
Some warnings! If you cross the U.S./Canada border with a cell phone on, some phones may start
charging you roaming fees for every minute the power is on, not only when it is in use. Unfortunately,
U.S. technology currently lacks the ability to place an overseas call from a cellular phone.
Locally, many individual counties are in the process of passing laws to prohibit the use of a cellular phone
while driving. If you anticipate using your cellular phone frequently in your car, be very aware of local
ordinances. You may want to consider purchasing a hands-free model.
Gas and Electric
Public Service Commission: 518-474-7080
3 Empire State Plaza
With deregulation and many choices now available, permitting consumers to choose their electric and/or
natural gas supplier, each state has created a state consumer-assistance phone line.
In rental housing, if your gas and electric utilities are not included in the monthly rental fee, the realtor will
often see to it that your gas and electric utilities are connected. If you are purchasing a home or if your
realtor does not arrange to have your utilities turned on, you will have to contact the utility companies
Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) 800-752-6633 ww.coned.com
Northern Westchester/Putnam County:
New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) 800-572-1111 www.nyseg.com
In many towns, water and sewer utilities are supplied and billed by the town. With rental properties, the
homeowner may include water bill costs in the monthly rental fee or bill you separately for the cost of
If you are purchasing a home, you will need to call the water utility to set up an account in your name. In
some cases, there may be an application (your realtor may have the application or you can pick up one at
your water utility office) and a required deposit (usually $60 to $100).
For the water company to determine the usage, they may request that the home's occupants call in the
reading from the meter or they may send a water company representative to come to the residence and
read the meter. On occasion there may be a slight discoloration in the water when the water utility
performs their standard maintenance procedures. Call the utility if you have questions or concerns about
While regular television service is free, there are only a few channels to choose from. Many people
subscribe to a cable television service to increase their viewing options. Cable service adds an additional
30 to 60 channels. Cable companies and service vary, depending on where you live. In many areas, each
cable TV company has its own territory. If you are interested in receiving cable TV, check your local
Cable companies typically charge a one-time installation fee and then a monthly charge. The basic plan
includes a set number of basic cable channels. Additional channels are available for an extra fee. If the
home has already been wired for cable service, everything can usually be handled over the phone and
the company will likely turn on the service automatically within a few days of your request If the home is
not already wired for cable service, a cable company representative will come to install the necessary
cable lines. Cable representatives can generally come within a few days of your request.
Garbage collection varies by area. In some communities, the local government takes care of the
collection and the cost is figured into the town's property taxes. In other areas, a private garbage
collection business must be hired. Each garbage collection service has its own policy as to what it will
accept and how. Many towns prohibit the disposal of recyclable or hazardous materials in the regular
garbage collection and in some areas, there may even be a limit on the amount of garbage each
household can dispose of. Penalties may apply for violating these ordinances. Contact your local town
hall regarding collection procedures.
Recycling in Westchester County
The 2000 Program
Westchester County Recycling Hotline: 914-813-5420
Westchester County has reached its goal of recycling 40 percent of the waste that is generated each
year, thanks to the outstanding response by county residents to various municipal collection programs.
However, county officials continue to emphasize that the county has by no means reached its full
potential in terms of what can be recycled rather than disposed of as waste. County residents need to
keep moving forward, since each item recycled represents fewer tax dollars that need to be expended to
dispose of the item as waste.
The County Recycling Office has many informational brochures available on various aspects of recycling
and waste reduction, including: Proper Disposal of Paint, Batteries and Motor Oil; Grasscycling;
Composting; Household Hazardous Waste Disposal; Business Recycling; Proper Disposal of Sharps; and
Beautiful Gardens Without Pesticides.
Household Chemical Clean-Up Days
The County Recycling Office holds Household Chemical Clean-Up Days each year when county
residents can bring their unwanted and unused chemicals for disposal in a proper manner. For more
information, call the County Household Chemical Info-Line at 914-813-5425, or log on to the county's web
site at westchestergov.com.
Freon, Motor Oil and Vehicle Batteries
By law, freon must be removed before disposal of air conditioners and refrigerators. A list of vendors who
extract freon from equipment is available from the County Recycling Office.
Used motor oil is recycled at any service station designated a "Used Oil Retention Facility." Any station
that generates more than 500 gallons of used oil per year and any retail establishment that sells more
than 1,000 gallons of oil per year is required to accept used motor oil, free of charge, up to five gallons
per person per day.
It is illegal to discard vehicular batteries in the trash. Batteries should be returned to any local auto service
center, auto supply center or other places where batteries are sold.
While recycling certain materials takes a big bite out of the waste stream, prudent purchasing and
reducing what we discard add to the ways that we can all help.
Reduction can involve simple things such as choosing items from the supermarket that are sold in the
large economy size (since buying in bulk reduces the amount of packaging you discard); using china,
ceramics and reusable plastic for food and beverages instead of disposable plates and cups; and giving
away or donating to charity items you no longer want or need.
“Used but Usable” Clearinghouse
The Westchester County Recycling Office has established a "Used But Usable" Clearinghouse, which is
basically an informational "swap shop" where people who want to dispose of usable household items or
office equipment can list those items in a data bank.
People seeking used goods can call the Clearinghouse and inquire about a particular item. If it is listed,
they will be given a phone number for the person who is giving the item away. No fees can be charged by
either party, and transportation of the item(s) is the responsibility of the recipient.
The Clearinghouse accepts used furniture, appliances, bicycles, television sets and office equipment.
County residents can participate by calling the Clearinghouse Info Line at 914-813-5427 between 8:00
am and 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, or log on to the County website at go the Treasure Hunt
Hudson Valley Materials Exchange
Businesses and institutions throughout the Hudson Valley have an opportunity to participate in a similar
program through the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange, a New York State-funded waste prevention
The Exchange is a not-for-profit organization that collects and distributes reusable waste materials
generated by businesses, industries and institutions. It provides a warehouse facility for storage and
distribution of the materials to the public and will be expanding soon to include used and surplus building
materials. Representatives of the Exchange will come to your business to conduct an on-site waste
Warehouse location: 1101 First Street Building, #404 (Stewart Int’l. Airport), New Windsor, NY 12553.
Hours: Wednesday @ 11:00 a.m., Friday 12 Noon to 5:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call
for membership details at 845-567-1445.
If you have questions about recycling programs in your town, call your municipal recycling office for more
information. Local phone numbers are listed under Utilities in each community section.