This type of scam was especially popular in the late '80s to early '90s in the United States before tougher regulations on the 900 number business forced many of these businesses to close.A 1-900 telephone number, in the North American Numbering Plan, has the form 1-900-###-####, and is often called a 900 number or a 1-900 number ("one-nine-hundred").People need to ask permission to be a "buddy" and they need to know the user's e-mail address to make a request, which means most children only have "buddies" who they know outside the internet.They will also continue to make MSN Messenger free to users.Adult chat lines (phone sex) and tech support are a very common use of premium-rate numbers.Other services include directory enquiries, weather forecasts, competitions and voting (especially relating to television shows).Microsoft's internet service MSN is to cut back drastically its chatroom services because of concerns about child safety, it said.
Children's charities welcomed the move as "momentous" and said they saw it as a big step towards protecting young web users, but some have criticised the decision.
MSN UK's Matt Whittingham told BBC News Online it was not a decision they had taken lightly.
"We have been concerned about chatrooms for a while and reached a stage where we were no longer prepared to put up with inappropriate communication," he said.
Abusive contact Internet service provider Lycos has branded the action as "irresponsible" and fear children will move to other unmoderated chatrooms on the net.
Some have suggested that MSN may have economic reasons for closing down their chatrooms.
The only chat service available to MSN users in the UK will be the free instant messaging service, MSN Messenger, which is not so open and gives people more control over who they talk to.