Beware of those
expensive 1-900 telephone numbers
Those 1-900 numbers are proliferating
like crazy, offering a vast array of information, products and services
at your fingertips.
A word of caution: Many of these 1-900
numbers are nothing more than scams designed to steal your money. Here's
how they work:
1-900 numbers are pay-per-call services.
That means that you pay for the call based on the amount of time you
stay on the line. Some of these 1-900 services are legitimate. But many
are not, and rather than offering an important service or product you
may need or want, their sole purpose is to keep you on the phone as long
as possible. If you get caught in this trap, it can cost you dearly on
your next phone bill.
Charges for 1-900 calls are set by these
companies themselves, not by the government or the telephone company. In
the hands of unscrupulous telephone solicitors, this is practically a
license to steal. Be wary of services that don't tell you exactly how
much the call will cost for each minute. Often, these calls have built
in delays and automated messages designed to do nothing but extend the
duration of the call. Some 1-900 numbers actually put the caller on hold
and make you wait for the information.
You will be billed for all of this call
time, and it generally will take expensive minutes waiting for the
Another common 1-900 scam is to send
letters telling people they've won a guaranteed prize and directing them
to call a 1-900 number to claim the prize. Generally, the prizes are
worth a dollar or two. If that happens, you've just been taken. That's
because the call could cost you $25 or more.
The best advice is to avoid these
services altogether. However, if you decide to dial a 1-900 number,
there are a few things you should know first: When you dial a 1-900
number, you should hear the company's name, a description of the
information, goods or services being offered and the per-minute cost of
the call. After hearing this information, you also should be given a few
seconds to hang up the phone before the per-minute charges start
Bills for 1-900 calls should tell you who
to contact if you believe there's a problem. They also should provide
you with a local or toll-free number that you can call to dispute the
And finally, if problems persist, you can
ask your local telephone company to put a block on your phone to prevent
it from being used to make 1-900 calls.
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