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Is a 1 800 number different from a vanity number?

A:

Quick Answer

A 1-800 number is a toll-free number, while a vanity number is a type of toll-free number that spells out the name of a person or company or an acronym chosen by a subscriber. A 1-800 number can be a vanity number or a series of random digits.

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Full Answer

There are six toll-free codes as of 2015: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855 and 844. These allow callers to contact businesses or individuals without being charged for the call. The call is instead paid for by the toll-free subscriber, the business or party to whom the number is assigned. Toll-free numbers are not interchangeable; for example, 1-866-123-4567 is not the same as dialing 1-800-123-4567.

Toll-free numbers, including vanity numbers, are issued by organizations the Federal Communications Commission calls "Responsible Organizations," or "RespOrgs," on a first-come, first-served basis. RespOrgs are often, but not necessarily, phone companies. RespOrgs are allowed to access the SMS/800 database that houses information pertaining to the status of all toll-free numbers. The SMS/800 database administrator manages toll-free service and certifies all RespOrgs.

Individuals and businesses interested in obtaining a vanity number can contact any RespOrg to find out if a specific toll-free number is available. There are many RespOrgs and toll-free service providers in the United States. A complete list of these is available on the SMS/800 website.

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