Computer criminals have used premium-rate numbers to defraud unsuspecting Internet users.

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.

Initially, consumers had no choice regarding the accessibility to 900/976 numbers on their phones.

However, in 1987, after a child had accumulated a bill of $17,000 From the early 1980s through the early 1990s, it was common to see commercials promoting 1-900 numbers to children featuring such things as characters famous from Saturday morning cartoons to Santa Claus.

Numbers with the 900 area code were those which were expected to have a huge number of potential callers, and the 900 area code was screened at the local level to allow only a certain number of the callers in each area to access the nationwide long distance network for reaching the destination number.

Also, the early incarnation of 900 was not billed at premium-rate charges, but rather at regular long distance charges based on the time of day and day of week that the call was placed.

A call to either one of these numbers can result in a high per-minute or per-call charge.

For example, a "psychic hotline" type of 1-900 number may charge .99 for the first minute and 99 cents for each additional minute.

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