Why Should I Not Dial a 1-900 Telephone Number?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
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  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2018
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There are plenty of reasons why you should not dial a 1-900 telephone number. The biggest of these tends to be the expense involved, because most of these calls offer you little in the way of assistance or help, but will definitely add charges to your phone bill. You’ll usually end up paying several dollars per minute of use, and sometimes you may be in for worse circumstances. Occasionally, such numbers are scams designed to take your money and give you nothing in return.

Generally speaking, 900 numbers exist to offer you jokes, adult chats, psychic readings, weather forecasts and other things that you certainly can get without making a phone call. They may work in one of two ways. You may be charged a toll for making the call, which will appear on your phone bill, or alternately, you might be asked to provide your credit card information. Many 976 numbers that you might be encouraged to call promising “free” trips or sweepstakes winnings will collect your personal information and operate primarily as scams. In order to collect prizes, you’ll have to pay the company fees to call the number and also possibly make direct payments. Additionally, you’re giving out your personal information to an unknown source that is very unlikely to have your best interest at heart.


When you dial a 1-900 telephone number that charges your phone bill only, you still may be have drastic surprises waiting for you when your get your bill. In fact, in the 1980s, the California state government empowered people to block making 1-900 calls from phone lines because of the amount of charges that can accumulate very quickly. This decision was made after a child racked up an amazing $17,000 US Dollars (USD) in debt to the phone company through 1-900 number use. California’s decision to allow customers to block 1-900 dialing led the way for the US Federal Trade Commission to also work to protect consumers from the potential massive debt involved in using these numbers.

The heyday of the 1-900 number was the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many celebrities offered special messages if you would dial one of these numbers, and many were marketed specifically to kids, offering jokes and puzzles. These numbers have become less common as consumers have grown increasingly wary of them. Some have been replaced by cell phone texting to joke lines, weather forecasts or the like, which may also have special tolls. There are still many people who consider using 1-900 telephone numbers, but most experts agree that these commercial services just aren't worth your time or money.


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Discuss this Article

Post 10

Are the 1-900 numbers are still acceptable as of now? Like, are they still used today?

Post 8

@KaBoom - I agree, I'm glad they've cracked down on this kind of thing. However, I kind of feel like 1-900 numbers have been replaced by email scams!

I know I get a ton of those scam emails in my spam box every single day, promising me a huge payout from a long lost relative or some such nonsense. I'm informed enough not to fall for it, but I know some people still do.

It's sad to say, but I think as the government cracks down on one kind of scam, another will spring up to take its place!

Post 7

I'm glad 1-900 numbers aren't very popular anymore. I always thought they were very predatory. After all, who else but a very lonely or desperate person would call a 1-900 number that charges a ton of money by the minute just to have an "adult chat" or talk to a fraudulent psychic?

Post 6

As the article said, there is really no reason to call a 1-900 number. The services they offer aren't essential, and besides, you can find most of that stuff online or elsewhere.

For example, why call a premium rate phone number to get the weather or to hear some jokes? You can find out what the weather is using your television and on a number of websites. As far as learning new jokes, the Internet or the library should suffice!

Don't let yourself get sucked into paying hundreds of dollars a month for stuff you can get for free!

Post 5

@anon144824 - I don't know anything about a class action lawsuit involving MCI and 1-900 numbers. However, if I were you, I'd give them a call and see if they will remove the charges from your bill. If you didn't make the call to a premium rate telephone number, they shouldn't be charging you for it!

You should at least try their customer service before you consider a lawsuit.

Post 4

Who issues, controls and profits from the use of 900 toll telephone numbers?

Post 3

MCI has billed me for two 1-900 calls I did not make. Has a class-action law suit been brought against MCI yet over this issue?

Post 2

@alex94: It really depends on who your cell phone service provider is. I had a similar incident a couple of years ago. I called my service provider and told them that I did not make the calls. The date and time of the calls that were made were on a day that I was at work. My cell phone stays in my purse so I know that no one else could have made the calls either.

The customer service representative was initially adamant that I had to have made the calls. However, I asked to speak to a supervisor and then was able to resolve the issue. I had to sign an affidavit saying that I did not make the calls. They deducted it from my phone bill.

Post 1

My cell phone bill came in last week and I had 11 different charges for “1-900” numbers. I have never called one of those numbers. For those 11 calls, $127.00 was added to my bill. Can I dispute the charges? It shows that the calls were made from my cell phone number but I absolutely did not make the calls.

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