DEAR ABBY: Last March, I received a $400 phone bill that included $260 in adult entertainment calls made by my 10-year-old daughter and 11-year-old niece. At first, the phone company refused to adjust the bill, then it gave me credit for half. After five months of fighting with the long-distance phone company, and countless phone calls, I finally got the whole amount credited to my account.
In the state of Oregon, the public utility commission regulates telecommunications. There is a statute that says, "Any obligation that may have arisen from the dialing of a pay-per-call is void and unenforceable if made by an unemancipated child under 18 years of age."
Every state has its own regulations, but a call to your state's public utility commissioner should clarify whether people have to pay the bill in these circumstances. People can also contact the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.
The phone company knows it is supposed to write off the charges of such calls made by children. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of parents dispute their bill -- even though this is a frequent occurrence. I hope my letter helps other parents. -- VICTORIOUS IN OREGON
DEAR VICTORIOUS: Congratulations. I'm sure your letter will be of interest to other parents of "curious" children. Another effective preventive measure that parents can take is to put a 900 block or an international block on their phone line.