1-800-CHICAGO Actually A Phone Sex Line Run By Philadelphia Company That Isn't Comcast

If you suddenly start seeing credit card bills with charges to 1-800-CHICAGO and your teen tries to tell you he’s just really interested in information about Wrigley Field, well… he’s lying. It’s actually a number that connects the caller with a phone sex line, and it’s just one of countless other seemingly innocuous 1-800 numbers that has been scooped up by a little company in Philadelphia.

According to an AP investigation, a company named PrimeTel Communications has spent the last decade grabbing up every decent 1-800 number it can get its hands on and now controls 1.7 million of them, around a quarter of all 800 numbers, in the U.S. and Canada.

Many of these numbers end up in the hands of A-1 Advertising, the actual phone sex business. The two companies share the same building, owners and executives, reports the AP.

Among the numbers these companies have that redirect to sex lines are 1-800-Metallica, 1-800-Cadillac, 1-800-Minolta, 1-800-Cameras, 1-800-Worship and 1-800-Whirlpool.

Here is our favorite anecdote from the AP story:

When New York City’s Fire Department relinquished its toll-free fire safety hotline a few years ago because of an administrative slip-up, PrimeTel grabbed it the moment it became available. Soon enough, 1-800-FIRETIP was ringing into one of National A-1′s phone-sex lines.

We know lots of people have a thing for firefighters but is “Fire Tip” a phrase you want to associate with sex?

There is nothing illegal about repurposing relinquished numbers for phone sex or other adult services. However, the FCC has reportedly expressed an interest in just how PrimeTel has managed to acquire so many numbers in such a competitive marketplace.

Porn company collecting 1-800 numbers [Chicago Sun-Times]