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Premium-rate telephone numbers are telephone numbers for telephone calls during which certain services are provided, and for which prices higher than normal are charged.
In some jurisdictions, telephone companies are required by law to offer such blocking.
Adult chat lines (phone sex) and tech support are a very common use of premium-rate numbers.
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.
Using 900 numbers for adult entertainment lines was a prevalent practice in the early years of the industry.
In 1992, the Supreme Court allowed a law passed by Congress that created a block on all 900 numbers that provided adult content, except for those consumers who requested access to a specific number in writing.
Other services include directory enquiries, weather forecasts, competitions and voting (especially relating to television shows).
Diplomatic services, such as the US Embassy in London or the UK Embassy in Washington, have also charged premium rates for calls from the general public.
The EU Consumer Rights Directive 2011/EU/83 came into force on 13 June 2014. Implementation detail, and hence the level of success in achieving this aim, varies considerably from country to country.
Computer criminals have used premium-rate numbers to defraud unsuspecting Internet users.