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Telephone companies typically offer blocking services to allow telephone customers to prevent access to these number ranges from their telephones.In some jurisdictions, telephone companies are required by law to offer such blocking.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.

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.The EU Consumer Rights Directive 2011/EU/83 came into force on 13 June 2014. Implementation detail, and hence the level of success in achieving this aim, varies considerably from country to country.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.The law killed the adult 900 number business, which moved over to 800 numbers, where billing had to be done by credit card.Area Code 900 went into service January 1, 1971, but the first known to have been used in the United States for the "Ask President Carter" program in March 1977, for incoming calls to a nationwide talk radio broadcast featuring the newly elected President Jimmy Carter, hosted by anchorman Walter Cronkite.

At that time, the intent for area code 900 was as a choke exchange—a code that blocked large numbers of simultaneous callers from jamming up the long distance network.

This type of scam was especially popular in the late '80s to early '90s in the United States before tougher regulations on the 900 number business forced many of these businesses to close.

A 1-900 telephone number, in the North American Numbering Plan, has the form 1-900-###-####, and is often called a 900 number or a 1-900 number ("one-nine-hundred").

Adult chat lines (phone sex) and tech support are a very common use of premium-rate numbers.

Other services include directory enquiries, weather forecasts, competitions and voting (especially relating to television shows).

Diplomatic services, such as the US embassy in London or the UK Embassy in Washington, have also charged premium rates for calls from the general public.