In North America (USA and Canada), the 855 area code is a toll-free number. This means it’s free for the person receiving the call because the person calling the call pays the charge. It’s useful for government departments or customer service lines, for example.
Generally, legitimate companies will use their toll-free number to call people because it means the receiver won’t pay the charges.
So, if you have an 855 number calling you, you are comfortable to pick up the call as it is free. Consider using a scam phone number lookup to check whether other people have registered the number. Also, you won’t find it in an area code lookup because it isn’t one. It’s reserved specifically for toll-free numbers.
The US and Canada do have other toll-free number prefixes. These include 800, 866, 888 and 877. As with 855, you won’t find these in an area code lookup because they aren’t area codes. In the UK, there are 2 toll-free prefix codes: 0800 and 0808.
How a toll-free number works is pretty simple. The company with the toll-free number has already paid for the call, usually in the form of a package deal rather than individual minutes. Of course, this means less in the days of internet phone lines than it did when we had manned operator services, but the point still stands.
Essentially, companies with toll-free numbers work under the assumption that callers have already paid for a service. For example, this could be your premium with an insurance provider or your social security payments for a government department. It’s the company’s way of saying thanks.
The main reasoning for toll-free numbers (other than customers not paying) is that they facilitate long-distance and international calls. Long-distance call charges aren’t as common as they were due to internet lines, but international calls can obviously be quite pricey.
In fact, due to the rise of VoIP calls, you might find yourself paying more for a local call than for bulk international call minutes. However, toll-free numbers help with both these issues, as they remain free.
Although toll-free numbers could work in any industry, they’re more popular in some than others. Some examples of industries that are most suitable for toll-free numbers include:
As mentioned, governments often use free phone numbers because they need to be accessed by all. Plus, they’re supported by social security payments, so technically we’ve already paid for the service.
The same is true for charities and non-profits, as they should be accessible to their donors and clients. Of course, some go the other way and use very expensive phone lines, but a toll-free number sends a better message to the public.
A lot of marketing agencies assign toll-free numbers for their clients. These are known as vanity numbers, which spell out a word using the number’s digits. For example, a company might assign the toll-free number 1-855-FLOWERS to be more memorable for their customers.
The basic idea for using a toll-free number for marketing is described above. While you might not expect potential customers to remember your number, it’s more about creating a brand image. The vanity number 1-855-FLOWERS is certainly more memorable than 1-855-3569377, after all.
Importantly, though, toll-free numbers allow for both calling and texting. Long-distance and international texts are typically more expensive than local ones, although different rules apply to calls. Even so, texting is a useful communication channel for customers, so it helps to have a toll-free text number.
How to get a toll-free number depends on several factors, such as your country of business. Generally, you need to buy the phone number from a company or government body, depending on who assigns ownership rights.
In the US, you can be assigned one through the FCC. There’s a bit of a process to follow, but you need to contact its Responsible Organizations department and go through some due diligence.
In the UK and Canada, you’ll generally end up going through a third-party supplier. For example, in the UK, you can buy a toll-free number from BT. Although this is the closest thing to the country’s FCC, it’s a private organization, so it still functions like any other business purpose.
For Canadian businesses, you can get a toll-free number through your phone systems supplier. You can find some examples of them here. The system functions much like the US’s in that you’ll be assigned a number if it’s available, but it’ll be as part of your line rental agreement.
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Part of this is more easily getting multiple phone numbers (both domestic and international). While you can do this in retail stores and online, it’s far more convenient to get them all in one place.
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