Porn Company Owns Big Share of All 1-800 Numbers
Phone sex hotline keeps buying old numbers
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 19, 2011 4:00 PM CDT
PrimeTel controls more US and Canadian 800 numbers than any other firm.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Think twice before dialing 1-800-Chicago, 1-800-Cadillac, 1-800-Worship: all are now linked to phone sex services. For the past 13 years, a firm with ties to sex lines has grabbed 1-800 numbers as soon as other companies gave them up, the AP reports. Now, PrimeTel has control of some 1.7 million such numbers, almost a quarter of those that exist in the US and Canada—and the most of any company, Verizon and AT&T included.

That means calls that once went to hotlines for fire safety, AIDS resources, and auto repair now ask unsuspecting callers to pay for phone sex. The Philadelphia company that collects the numbers shares ownership and an office with National A-1 Advertising, which runs erotic chat lines. Catching customers by mistake is a “big new industry,” says the head of another toll-free number service. “I guess enough people go for it that it makes business sense"—though PrimeTel says it's not trying to trick anyone.