They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Phone Sex Company Controls Nearly 25% Of 1-800 Numbers

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Newscom

According to the AP, the numbers redirect to chat lines operated by National A-1 Advertising, which shares offices, ownership and legal representation with PrimeTel. Among the numbers that now connect to a woman offering "one-on-one talk with a nasty girl" for a fee: 1-800-Chicago, 1-800-Metallica, 1-800-Cadillac, 1-800-Minolta, 1-800-Beatles, 1-800-Cameras, 1-800-Worship and 1-800-Whirlpool. PrimeTel appears to have grabbed numbers with famous names, or canceled numbers that have been advertised widely.





From the late 1980s until around 2005, teenagers who dialed the national hotline used by Teens Teaching AIDS Prevention would reach a call center in Kansas City, Mo., where other youths were waiting to answer questions about the disease. When that program ended, the number was soon routed to one of National A-1's sex lines. But the AIDS hotline number is still publicized by public health groups.

When New York City's Fire Department relinquished its toll-free fire safety hotline a few years ago because of an administrative slip-up, PrimeTel grabbed it the moment it became available. Soon enough, 1-800-FIRETIP was ringing into one of National A-1's phone-sex lines.

A National A-1 line embarrassed the Republican National Committee, when it sent out a mailer containing a 1-800 number connecting to phone sex.

According to an industry database consulted by the AP, PrimeTel administered 1.667 million of the nearly 7.9 million active 1-800 numbers as of this March. Not all the numbers are phone sex lines. Some reach a mortgage brokerage, a dieting website and a travel reservation number.

PrimeTel is one of around 400 toll-free service providers in the U.S. and Canada, and has access to the 800 Service Management System, where numbers are available on a "first-come, first-served" basis. Unlike the big phone companies with similar access, PrimeTel is apparently claiming numbers primarily for one a single partner: National A-1.

Read the rest here.

About The Author

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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl@talkingpointsmemo.com

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