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“Now here come the 900 numbers to finish the job on our children’s minds,” she told in 1988.
The problem became so huge that telephone companies instituted policies that guaranteed teenagers’ first offenses would be forgiven, erased from the phone bill.
At one point, teen party lines were only one category of phone services — 970 numbers were reserved for X-rated connections, but other 900 numbers offered fan lines for Hulk Hogan or rock ’n’ roll music, sports talk, psychics, or bible verses. It was the 1980s entrepreneur’s dream, albeit a risky one.“My meal ticket,” said Joe Widawsky, who started 540-AMOR, a Hispanic group date line in New York City.
After the first party lines opened, the fad exploded.
Teens learned they could dial a simple phone number and charge any rates directly to their parents’ phone bill.
Around the country, kids dialed numbers like 550-TEEN for access to party lines, otherwise known as group bridging services.
The operators of these lines charged participants on a per minute basis, for example, 95 cents for the first minute and 45 cents for each additional.