“Welcome to America’s hottest talk line. Ladies, to talk with interesting and exciting guys free, press 1 now. Press 1 now.”
That is the message that greets callers who dial the number printed on the back of their Maine electronic food-stamp cards. It turns out that the agency misprinted its phone number on the back of the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. The number is off by a single digit — and from such slim margins, callers are led from the government to something far less PG.
The agency doesn’t know how many cards were misprinted, according to spokesperson John Martins, but is in the process of correcting the mistake. He said that the agency has vowed to take steps to ensure “this type of inadvertent error does not occur again.”
However, the mishap is not entirely the fault of the government. Apparently, the chat line’s operators search for widely published government phone numbers before purchasing a number that is very close to it. That way, the chat line can take advantage of unwitting consumers who misdial the number or (in this case) a publishing typo.