Records obtained by The Associated Press show that a little-known Philadelphia company has quietly gained control of nearly a quarter of all the 800 numbers in the U.S. and Canada over the past several years.
And many, if not most, of those 1.7 million numbers appear to be used for one thing: redirecting callers to a phone-sex service.
As of March, PrimeTel Communications administered more 800 numbers that any other company, including Verizon and AT&T.
The FCC has never taken formal action against PrimeTel, though federal authorities have expressed renewed interest lately in companies that handle toll-free numbers. Authorities sent subpoenas last fall asking companies including PrimeTel how they acquire numbers and why.