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In many European countries, for example France, Germany and the United Kingdom, it was common for organisations to operate customer service lines on premium-rate numbers using prefixes that fall outside the scope of the country's premium-rate number regulations.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.

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.These telephone numbers are usually allocated from a national telephone numbering plan in such a way that they are easily distinguished from other numbers.Telephone companies typically offer blocking services to allow telephone customers to prevent access to these number ranges from their telephones.One scheme involved inducing users to download a program known as a dialer that surreptitiously dialed a premium-rate number, accumulating charges on the user's phone bill without their knowledge.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. Calls to this number are charged at UK geographic rates and may be included as part of your providers call package or bundled minutes.

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.

Unlike a normal call, part of the call charge is paid to the service provider, thus enabling businesses to be funded via the calls.

While the billing is different, calls are usually routed the same way they are for a toll-free telephone number, being anywhere despite the area code used.

The law killed the adult 900 number business, which moved over to 800 numbers, where billing had to be done by credit card.

Other early leaders in amassing huge volumes of revenue were the New Kids on the Block and Dionne Warwick's Psychic Friends Network.

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