1 900 phone numbers – a warning

In last week’s Empire-Advance, we told you about a job scam that ripped off two Virden area residents who responded to the ad.

That prompted Ed Arndt of Virden to issue his own warning.

article continues below

Earlier this month, he got a call from a person saying they represent a new astrological company based in Vancouver. The caller gave Arndt a 1 900 number to dial to claim a free astrology reading from “Amy”.

Not everyone knows that 1 900 numbers are pay-per-call services that charge you by the minute as soon as you connect. They’re popular among psychics, adult chat lines, horoscope services, soap opera updates, sports scores and the like.

They make money by keeping you on the line as long as possible.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says the 1 900 offers going around today are a variation on a mailed flyer urging the consumer to call a 1 900 number to find out what they’ve won – the bait could be cash, cars, a boat, etc.

1 900 numbers aren’t illegal and not all are connected to scams. However, there was enough concern about them for the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) to impose new rules and limits on how much they can charge:

·         The maximum rate for calls to psychic lines is $6 per minute.

·         The maximum charge for games of chance is $5 per call.

·         Providers of games of chance must tell callers about any alternate ways of playing the game that do not involve calling a 900 number.

Advertisements for 1 900 services also have to state what the per-minute charges are.

If you call the 1 900 number, the person at the other end is required by law to give you “clear and complete” information about the charges and when they begin.

To report suspected fraudulent activity, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

© Virden Empire-Advance