Others apparently respond to the come-on and supply their credit card number.I guess enough people go for it that it makes business sense, said Aelea Christofferson, president of ATL Communications, another company that specializes in toll-free services.NEW YORK (AP) For years, teenagers across the U. could call a toll-free hotline if they had embarrassing questions about AIDS and safe sex. And many, if not most, of those 1.7 million numbers appear to be used for one thing: redirecting callers to a phone-sex service.Dial the same number now and you get a recording of giggling women offering to talk dirty to you. Dial 1-800-Chicago and instead of reaching a tourism hotline for the Windy City, you will hear a woman offering one-on-one talk with a nasty girl for .99 per minute.
Capturing callers who have reached the wrong number whether because they punched an incorrect digit or dialed a number without realizing it had changed hands is a big new industry, she said. That gives it the same power to reserve and assign unused toll-free numbers as big phone companies with millions of customers.
Founded in 1995, Prime Tel is one of around 400 companies registered as toll-free service providers for the U. But Prime Tel appears to be amassing numbers predominantly for one closely related partner, National A-1.
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As of March, it administered more 800 numbers that any other company, including Verizon and AT&T.
Records obtained by The Associated Press show that over the past 13 years, a little-known Philadelphia company called Prime Tel Communications has quietly gained control over nearly a quarter of all the 1-800 numbers in the U. and Canada, often by grabbing them the moment they are relinquished by previous users.