Another now-uncommon premium-rate scam involves television programming that induces young children to dial the number, banking on the notion that they will be unaware of the charges that will be incurred.One variant, targeted at children too young to dial a number, enticed children to hold the phone up to the television set while the DTMF tones of the number were played.Telephone companies typically offer blocking services to allow telephone customers to prevent access to these number ranges from their telephones.In some jurisdictions, telephone companies are required by law to offer such blocking.The phone operator/agent will then have the option of using ‘Extend-a-Call’ which allows the Customer to purchase additional time via the payment module by simply pressing ‘33’ on their keypad.Example: The Customer presses ‘33’ on their keypad The call timer is paused.Therefore, in contrast to North America where customer service numbers are typically free of charge to the caller, consumers in Europe often used to pay a premium above the cost of a normal telephone call.
Once the Customer enters the desired number of minutes the system auto-calculates the cost, creates a new transaction, then reconnects the call when the transaction is approved.
This type of scam was especially popular in the late '80s to early '90s in the United States before tougher regulations on the 900 number business forced many of these businesses to close.
A 1-900 telephone number, in the North American Numbering Plan, has the form 1-900-###-####, and is often called a 900 number or a 1-900 number ("one-nine-hundred").
Area Code 900 went into service January 1, 1971, but the first known to have been used in the United States for the "Ask President Carter" program in March 1977, for incoming calls to a nationwide talk radio broadcast featuring the newly elected President Jimmy Carter, hosted by anchorman Walter Cronkite.
At that time, the intent for area code 900 was as a choke exchange—a code that blocked large numbers of simultaneous callers from jamming up the long distance network.