Teens log onto phone chat lines

Published: Mar. 7, 2006 at 2:09 AM CST
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13 year-old Aisha Nichols is familiar with phone chat lines like LiveLinks. She has friends who have called them.

"I told them not to do it, but they still do it," says Nichols. Marketed as a place for singles to meet, the LiveLinks web-site says it receives millions of calls each month through local numbers in hundreds of cities, including Memphis.

But experts say there's not enough security. Len Edwards with The Commission On Missing & Exploited Children gave LiveLinks a ring.

"How are you able to screen these calls for these children?," Edwards asked an operator.

The operator told him that every caller is asked if they are 18 years of age or older.

"The screening process that if they doubt your age, that you simply fax in an ID," says Edwards.

Meantime, the LiveLinks operator says the number will be blocked. That's what West Memphis police say happened when LiveLinks suspected Arnecia Collins was not 18. But they believe she may have simply called the chat-line from a different phone. Collins has been missing since Saturday.

"Kids are going to find the loop-holes, the cracks, and they're going to enter," says Edwards.

That's why Nancy Thomas says she's always watchful of her daughter.

"And I'm sneakier," says Thomas. "Cause I used to be a teen, so I know," she adds.

Action News 5 tried to get more detailed information about LiveLinks security. A spokesperson never responded. But experts say parents are the first line of defense. Talk to your child, and check your credit card statement and phone bill for anything suspicious.