AT&T; to offer device to block certain calls

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Making an unauthorized call to a sex chat line in Lower Slobovia is about to get more difficult.

AT&T; Corp. said yesterday that it is offering a $90 computer-based device that lets the people who pay the phone bills prevent others from completing unauthorized toll calls.

AT&T; touted the device, which is about the size of a small tape recorder, to parents, vacation home owners and small-businesses owners who are trying to hold down their phone bills.

The device, called the AT&T; Call Controller, fits between the phone set and the wall jack.

Using a touch-tone pad, the owner can screen out 011 international codes, calls to specific countries, far-away area codes, exchanges that carry tolls, 900 numbers or even a specific phone number.

Customers can also block calls to 800 numbers, some of which allow callers to run up bills on sex lines, but the incentive to do that might fade after next Tuesday, when the Federal Communications Commission is expected to consider rules that will close a loophole that allows such charges.

The device doesn't block incoming calls or prevent 911 emergency calls.

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