Why do fake numbers always start with 555?

by: Custom Toll Free , June 30, 2016

When you’re watching a movie or TV show and a character starts to rattle off their phone number, you’re not surprised to hear that it starts with the digits 5-5-5. But have you ever wondered how this came to be the convention for fake phone numbers? Let’s see if we can answer some of your age-old questions.

TV shows and movies have been using the fake 555 numbers since the ’50s, all in an effort to prevent kids and teenagers from nuisance calling every number they see or hear on their screen. But no one is sure how 555 became the go-to prefix. Some believe it was because the repeated fives made the number combination memorable, helping it gain popularity as a solution.

But while most people hear 555 and automatically assume it’s a fake number, there are many “real” 555 phone numbers. Since 1994, 555 numbers (except for 555-0100 through 555-0199) have been available for both business and personal use. Back then, the North American Numbering Plan Administration started taking applications from people who wanted their own 555 numbers. You could reserve a number in a single area code, region or nationwide.

But this didn’t go as planned. The people and businesses that snatched up these numbers realized they were useless without a phone company to connect them. In fact, in 2003, Verizon told the New York Times that most phone companies were reluctant to cooperate. Although many of these 555 numbers are real, most of them are virtually unavailable.

555 numbers might have been an unsuccessful business strategy, but vanity toll-free numbers are the opposite. Learn how to boost your business with solutions from Custom Toll Free.

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