900 Service—What You Should Know
900 SERVICE IS NOT FREE!
Did you know that consumers can now choose from tens of thousands of 900 services? For a flat fee or for a per-minute charge, you can dial a 900 number to receive stock quotes, weather, sports or software information, health tips for your pet, technical advice on products and sweet talk from a stranger.
You can also dial a 900 number to get ripped off. The adage, “There is no free lunch,” definitely applies to 900 numbers. The more attractive the offer, the more the buyer or caller should be skeptical. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has cited credit card services, housing and jobs as potential fraud.
“The 900 pay-per-call service has emerged as one of the most significant vehicles for consumer fraud in recent history” according to a recent report by attorneys general from nine states, the lack of regulation and quick growth in the 900 industry have encouraged fraud.
Remember, making a 900 call is a purchase in itself. The vendor does not require your credit card number of name and address. The charges are billed through the long-distance carriers, with the local telephone company acting merely as the collector.
Wilkes Communications allows customers the option to BLOCK all 1 + 900 calls at NO CHARGE! This could prevent possible unexpected and unpleasant surprises when your telephone bill arrives. You can always have 1 + 900 blocking removed by stopping by our business office if you decide to make calls to a 900 service.
Here are some ways to protect yourself:
- Explain to all family members, especially children, the potential cost and consequences of initiating 900 calls as high as $50 per minute.
- Read (or listen for) the fine print. Per-call charges could be as high as $50 a minute.
- Never call a 900 number unless you know the price of the call, including the cost per minute and the maximum number of minutes the call may last.
- Beware of requests to verify your credit card number.
Most 900 companies are legitimate ventures. Industry analysts expect this industry to double in size in the next few years as new information providers enter to serve the consumer and business markets.
In keeping with this growth, the FCC, Congress and many states are currently formulating policy to regulate the burgeoning 900 industry. Some of the regulations recently passed include a message from the 900 service provider that notifies the customers of all charges and description of the service and gives them the opportunity to hang up without obligation.