Child support helpline takes callers to sex hotline

An ABC7 News viewer tipped us off to a story which has left a lot of government officials embarrased and in disbelief.
December 12, 2013 6:36:07 PM PST
"Welcome to America's hottest talk line."

That's what a Bay Area woman heard when she called a state agency. Needless to say, she was shocked. The San Mateo woman was just trying to get child support payments from her ex-husband when she called the hotline on a website. The problem has been solved, but it took some doing.

It's left many government officials embarrassed about this story which seems almost unbelievable -- a phone sex chat line which appeared on a county child support services website.

"It's just bizarre. It's just embarrassing to be calling that number," Cecilia Lee told ABC7 News. She needed help collecting back child support payments from her ex-husband. So she went to San Mateo County's Child Support Services website for help. "And under 'Contact Us' I called the number and it was a hotline... for guys and girls," she recalled.

Cecilia was shocked -- she had reached a sex chat line and thought for sure, it was a wrong number. So, she called again.. and again. "The same thing," she said. "For girls dial one. For boys, dials two."

She even called and emailed Child Support Services to complain about the sex hotline but that was more than a month ago and nothing was done. "I was very disappointed that something like that could happen. An agency like that, to make that kind of mistake, it's very unfortunate," she said.

ABC7 News went Child Support Services in Redwood City but despite Cecilia's calls and emails, the hotline number was news to them. "You were the first person to contact us regarding this issue," Director Iliana Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says her agency had no idea their helpline was a sex line. "And I apologize, but what can I say? The communication broke down," she said, acknowledging that the incident was embarrassing.

Rodriguez says the phone number was a vendor contracted by the state which changed its number months ago. The old number was apparently replaced by something less legit. The mistake has now been corrected. The number was taken down from the website and replaced with the corrected one.

ABC7 News contacted California Child Support Services in Sacramento, which is also embarrassed about the mistake. It's investigating to find out how this happened. The number also appeared on other county websites, but the agency can't say how many.

Cecilia finally got help with her case -- a personal call from the local director.


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