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Also, the early incarnation of 900 was not billed at premium-rate charges, but rather at regular long distance charges based on the time of day and day of week that the call was placed.
The number used for the radio program was one that was specially arranged by AT&T Corporation, CBS Radio, and the White House, to be free to the calling party.
At that time, many evening news agencies conducted "pulse polls" for $.50 per call charges and displayed results on television.
One early use was by Saturday Night Live producers for the sketch "Larry the Lobster", featuring Eddie Murphy. AT&T and the producers of SNL split the profits of nearly 0,000.
Earlier, 976 numbers used 976 as a local prefix (970 or 540 in some markets like New York state), though it was not assigned to a specific telephone exchange like other prefixes.
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.