Phone Card 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.
- 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
- 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
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.