TTC cyberattack support number takes employees to sex chat line

The number in a memo for the EFAP assistance program was wrong by a single digit

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It perhaps wasn’t the relief Toronto transit workers were expecting.

The changing of a single digit in a company-wide memo led TTC employees impacted by a recent cyberattack to an infamous sex chat line.

On Monday, the transit commission announced in both a public-facing press release and an internal company memo that they suspect the hackers responsible for the Oct. 29 ransomware attack also pilfered the personal information of about 25,000 TTC employees and pensioners.

In the memo to employees, the TTC suggested workers take advantage of counselling services available through its Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) by calling 1-800-572-0009.

Unfortunately, the program’s correct number is 1-800-572-0039.

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Employees were greeted with a message welcoming them to “America’s Hottest Talkline” — advising male callers that hot ladies were waiting to speak with them, and that women could press ‘2’ to speak with guys billed as both “interesting” and “exciting.”

The 20-second message disconnects without allowing the user to make a selection.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the incorrect phone number was a typo in an early version of the memo, but was corrected before it was distributed to most employees.

The ‘America’s Hottest Talkline’ message has become a bit of an infamous destination for victims of 1-800 number misprint.

In 2017, a now-deleted tweet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency urged victims of Hurricane Irma to call a number that took callers to the same message.

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Several years earlier, a typo in a 2013 pamphlet produced by the Lake County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office for victims of sexual assault resulted in callers also being directed to the same message.

An online lookup of 1-800-572-0009 lists its current owner as Mayfair Communications, Inc.

Public United States court records lists Mayfair as part of Philadelphia, Pa.-based PrimeTel Communications, which owns nearly two million 1-800 numbers — primarily those with digits that spell words.

A 2011 investigation by the Associated Press alleged most of the numbers owned by PrimeTel redirect callers to phone-sex services.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter:  @bryanpassifiume

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