prepaid phone cards

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Phone Card Facts

Financial facts

  • Prepaid phone cards that use a local access number, which is usually in highly dense population centers such as New York City and Chicago, sometimes cost less per minute than those phone cards that use an 800 access number.
  • Rates for Phone Cards purchased from airport vending machines are typically higher than the average Phone Card cost. 

Other facts

  • International phone cards used to call from the United States to other countries can not be used to make calls to the United States from other countries.
  • The number of units marked on any given phone card usually reflects the number of minutes of calls that can be made within the U.S.A.  Card companies use multiple units to tell you how many units will be necessary for one minute of international calling. Typically, if cards are marked with units rather than minutes, the phone card can be used to call internationally.
  • There is a record of your phone calls associated with the personal identification number (PIN) on your Phone Card. For people to find out which numbers that you called, they must know your PIN or the control number usually found on the lower right corner on the back of the card. This control number is never covered as is the PIN but is used by the Phone Card Company to identify the PIN on that card.

Phone Cards Help Trace 9/11 Terrorists

The FBI ran phone numbers associated with 9/11 terrorists through US phone company records and came up with more phone number leads that have helped in tracing these terrorists to their contacts. 

Remote-memory used in the US contains all phone calls on every phone card.  So, when an FBI-provided phone number was found on a phone card, the other phone numbers on that phone card became new leads.

The terrorists also used European phone cards, but phone numbers cannot be traced on European phone cards

Phone Card Technology

European companies have commonly employed various forms of stored-memory technology, such as magnetic strips or optical chips, to record purchased and available minutes. However, this technology requires a centralized phone company whose phones can read the stored-memory cards,

In the United States, where technology standardization has been impossible, the tightly FCC-regulated telecommunications industry provides opportunity to new companies and creates open competition. This has resulted in the birth of remote-memory cards which are made possible by fast computers, clever software, and large switching facilities.

Remote-memory cards provide an access number, which is typically an 800-number, and a personal identification number (PIN). Information about purchased and remaining minutes is stored in a remote computer database keyed to the PIN.



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