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800 Area Code. Location. Time Zone. Toll Free? Scam? Who's Calling?

Richard Bagnell
Richard Bagnell

It can be worrying to see a new area code come up on your caller ID. It could be from someone you know or it could be a scam. Not wanting to find yourself caught as the victim of a scam, it is understandable that you may currently avoid these numbers. However, avoiding calls is not the best way to handle the situation, so instead you need to do some research.

number 800

If area code 800 comes up on your ID, know that this is one of the toll free area codes by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). The NANP is a numbering plan for twenty five regions in twenty different countries. This includes the United States and some of its territories such as Canada, the Cayman Islands, Grenada and many others.

What Area Uses The 800 Area Code?

The 800 prefix can be used in all states, cities and counties in the US. The 800 prefix indicates that it is toll free but gives very little information about where the call originates. The call could be from Florida, California or Alaska. This is the same with other toll free numbers, the caller could be in any city. Most area codes are geographic area codes - they give an indication of where the caller is calling from. If you are do not recognise the number you can decide not to answer and then listen to your voicemails later.

History of area code 800

Area code 800 was originally put to service on January 1, 1966 and was the first toll free area code in the United States with the other being 833, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888. In toll free numbers the one who is being called is charged instead of the caller and toll free numbers are not assigned any particular geographical area or timezone.

800 was assigned to the first automated toll free numbers created as WATS or Wide Area Telephone Service where they would accept calls from a calling area with no limit of calls or hours per month. There was no way to know back then just how big these numbers were going to become. At the time, they were introduced to ease the load from overworked staff who were constantly operating the phones. Since then, things have changed rather drastically.

800 services used to be limited between the US and Canada until 1984 when carriers agreed  to allow the numbers to be accessible in either country. Advanced 800 Service which came about at the time were now available to Canadian customers and American customers as well. Since then, this has expanded to include a number of other countries that are part of the United States territory. This is a more recent development, and as of 2022, twenty four counties are included. At this time, more companies than ever before began to use these numbers as standard practice, seeing as they became more affordable after a judge ordered Ma Belle into a dozen regional companies.

Between 1994 and 2000, the popularity of 800 numbers began to soar. Having a toll-free number was no longer something that only major market contenders had, but became a common practice. It was more of a necessity than anything else by 2000 if you wanted to be able to operate on a regional level. As such, the demand for these numbers massively increased, causing 888 numbers to be introduced in 1996, followed shortly by 877 and 866 in 1998 and 1999. The most recent addition to the 800 numbers is the 833 number which made its debut back in 2017.

It’s true to say though that due to the development of the internet and cell phones, business communication changed drastically. However, 800 numbers are still very much around, and now signify professionalism and establishment in an industry.

Are calls from 800 toll free?

Calls from 800 are toll free in the United States and are commonly used by businesses seeking to provide customer service with no charge being placed on the caller even if it's a long distance call. If you see an 800 number, you can immediately be sure that the conversation will be toll free to the caller, and instead charged to the recipient of the phone call. This can be done from a cell phone or a landline, and there will be no charge to the customer usually. From a landline it is going to be completely free and nothing to worry about, but it is still possible for your provider to charge you if you are using a mobile device. The reason for this is that some providers charge for the usage instead of by the number that has been called.

Text messages can even be sent to toll free numbers so long as these are text enabled. It is important to note that not all 800 numbers will have enabled the capability to send text messages to them, so be sure to check this out before you try. Businesses will also be able to send texts in response, so you don’t have to sit and wait for a phone call. Free calls are from 800 numbers are normal but free texts are less common.

How to obtain your own 800 area code number?

In order to obtain your own 800 area code number you must go through the Federal Communications Commission or the FCC who are responsible for assigning toll free numbers. Entities called "Responsible Organizations". The FCC will assign most toll free numbers on a first-come, first-served basis. However, respectable organizations are chosen by subscribers to reserve numbers on their behalf, as well as to manage and administer the appropriate records for the toll free subscribers. These organizations have access to a toll free database where they can get information on the status of all toll free numbers. The respectable organizations are certified by Somos, Inc who are the administrator of the toll free number database.

As such, in order to obtain your own 800 number, you are going to need to talk to a respectable organization. An exception to this though was with the 833 numbers back in 2018. The FVV decided to make certain numbers in the 833 toll free code available through an auction. The idea behind this was to see how competitive bidding can be used to effectively assign toll free numbers. It worked well, and has been the only auction for toll free numbers to have ever been conducted.

How Do You Pay For Toll Free Numbers?

As a business, when you purchase a toll free number, you will have the option to pay the entire cost of the number, but sometimes you will be offered the option to pay on a monthly basis in order to make it more affordable. This will depend on a number of factors though, so ensure that you check out the best way to purchase a toll free number for your needs before you make any kind of decision.

What makes 800 different from other toll free numbers?

Toll free numbers are not interchangeable meaning that dialing 1-800 followed by the number would yield a different result from dialing 1-844 with the same number largely because toll free numbers are routed to a certain local phone number. There really is no difference between them other than the fact that they are not interchangeable and the 800 numbers were the first to be released. 800 numbers were the original idea, and all subsequent toll free numbers (888,877,866 etc) were produced to keep up with the demand for them.

What Are Vanity Numbers?

A vanity number is a toll free number that spells out a name, a word or an acronym that the subscriber chooses. They are there to ensure that the phone number is as memorable as possible, helping businesses to make their number more appealing to customers and potential customers. For example, 1-800-FLOWERS is a vanity number. The letters correspond to a number on the keypad and form a number to get in contact with.


Vanity numbers are fantastic for marketing purposes, which is why they have been so popular with businesses for the last couple of decades. They are all easy to remember, short sequences of numbers that are designed to help people remember the number without having to look at a business card.


Due to the popularity of vanity numbers though, a lot of customers end up disappointed as there has already been taken. This is generally because they want something that is generic and that everyone immediately thinks of to describe their business. However, when it comes to choosing a vanity number, you want something that reflects your business well, so instead of telling them what you do, tell them why you do it. For example, if you are in the mortgage business, you need to let people know why to choose you with the number. This could be something like 1-800-FAST LOAN.


The more creative you can get, the more likely it is that your vanity number is going to be available. A lot of companies use these to aid their sales, so you are going to be hard pressed now to find something that is generic. If you want to open up your possibilities further, don’t limit yourself to seven digit numbers like the majority of people do.

Benefits Of 800 Area Code Numbers

One of the benefits of 800 area codes is the fact that it helps you to improve your customer satisfaction. There are customers all over the world right now trying to get in contact with a business only to find that they can’t locate the contact details. It’s a frustrating process, and can lead to some extremely annoyed investigating. Also, by not charging your customers, they are not going to mind too much that they have had to contact you at all. Sure, it takes time out of their day, but at least it isn’t costing them anything. The easier you make it to reach you, and the fact that you have ensured they don’t pay for the privilege will help massively with customer satisfaction.


As well as this, toll free numbers give your business an air of credibility. While it’s true that they used to be used for big corporations, this is no longer the case. They are fantastic for businesses of all sizes, enhancing your business’ image in a way that nothing else can. It does this by not letting anyone know where you are, but still allowing you to have a professional looking phone number. You could be working from a cave somewhere and none of your customers would be any the wiser. Unfortunately, a lot of people have preconceptions when they notice that some companies are run from home, so this helps avoid any prejudices.


We just mentioned vanity numbers above, and they are a fantastic benefit of toll free numbers. As we said, these are designed to be easy to remember. People are more likely to call you as they are more likely to remember your number. This will help to generate more sales, and as such is an extremely helpful marketing tool for your company. Boosting your business image is always going to be important when it comes to business, so doing whatever you can to reach this result is a bonus.


Using a toll free number can also help you to track your marketing efforts. Using a toll free number, you are able to create extensions which you can then associate with a particular marketing campaign. For example, you can use a specific number for any of the print marketing that you use, another number for the business website, another for social media and so on. As such, you can track where each of the phone calls have been generated from, allowing you a deeper insight into your social media. As such, you can start altering things that aren’t working in order to boost your call volume, ROI and sales.


The last benefit that we’re going to look at is portability. Location has no bearing on your business when you have a toll free number. You want to pack up and work from another country while you’re on holiday? Nobody has to know as you can forward your calls to your cell phone or any other phone. You can even take the number with you if you change providers seeing as you have paid for it. It’s your number now, so you don’t have to worry about losing it if you move around! This will provide you a sense of stability that you may not have with a number that needs to be changed.

What Role Do The FCC PlayIn 800 Numbers?

The FCC is responsible for setting the rules when it comes to getting and using toll free numbers. Essentially, they are the ones who come up with and enforce the rules of these numbers. For example, the FCC says that toll free numbers have to be portable, ensuring that a subscriber is able to move their number to a new respectable organization if they change service providers. This makes things easier for the subscriber, enticing businesses to use these numbers.


But, the FCC is not actually responsible or involved at all when it comes to assigning the numbers. They cannot access the number database, and they also can’t provide any information about the status of a singular toll free number. The FCC is more of a regulatory body, ensuring the rules are followed.

Is 800 a scam?

Most of the users of the 800 area code are businesses. However, recent technologies have made it easier to obtain your own customized number hence making it easier for scammers to call anyone up and trick people into thinking that a legitimate business is calling them. Companies who are legitimate should always be able to prove that this is the case, but just to be on the safe side, ensure that you take precautions.

If someone is claiming to be from a certain company using this area code, run a search for their company and see if the number they used to call you is the same as the one from the company website. If there are discrepancies, do not entertain and block the number. Never give your personal information over the phone to any company that is calling and doesn’t seem to be legitimate. It is illegal for a company to ask you to disclose your banking details over the phone, so you should never give this information.

You should also never reply to a text message from a business that asks for any personal or banking information. This is likely a scam as companies will never ask you to write down your personal information and send it to them like this.

800 numbers themselves are not a scam, but this does not mean that there are no people out there who are using them for this purpose. If you have any doubts whatsoever, block the number that calls or texts you. You can get in touch with the company through the number that they have listed on their website, and they will be able to confirm or deny whether the correspondence you received was from them or not. This is the best way to ensure that you remain safe.

How do I block unwanted 800 calls?

To block unwanted 800 calls, for Android simply follow these steps

  • Go to Recent Calls
  • Click Details
  • Click Block Number

For iPhone users:

  • Click the encircled i
  • Click more information
  • Click Block this number


It’s important to understand that this works the same way as any other number. For example, even if you block an 844 number, that doesn’t mean that other people with an 844 number won’t be able to contact you. This is just the area code and does not stand for all numbers with this code. If a number is bothering you, you can report the number as well as blocking it, especially if they are making constant SPAM calls.

Another thing that you can do if you don’t want to receive phone calls from 800 numbers is register your cell phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. This will block telemarketers from being able to call your cell phone as well as landline. This will then block all 800 numbers and doesn’t cost you a penny. You can do this from your phone, but you need to call from the number that you are wishing to add to the registry. Or, if it’s easier for you, you will be able to register online. If you do register your phone number on this list and you still receive calls from telemarketing companies, you can be pretty confident that it is a scam.

To block from your landline you have a few options using star codes. For example, if you use the star code *77, you will completely block all anonymous calls from coming through. However, if you want to block specific numbers, then you can use the *60 code. Dial *60 and you will hear a list of instructions that will tell you how to block a number. If you want to block another number, then dial #, the number and then # again. Or, if you simply want to block the most recent call that you received then you can dial #01#.

How Do Toll Free Numbers Work Internationally?

Toll free numbers are popular because the caller doesn’t have to pay the charge. The business owner pays the cost of the call, which is why a lot of toll free owners block access from international calls. The company instead will provide you with a local number that you can get in touch with them on instead. However, unlike with local calls, if you are calling a business internationally even on a toll free number, the caller will pay for the call.


There is an exception to this though: international toll free freephone numbers. These are toll free numbers that have an additional country code and are free to call from counties that also have the freephone system in place. If you are dialing from the US, then you would call 011 800 and then the rest of the digits.

What Does ‘Warehousing’ Toll Free Numbers Mean?

A respectable organization cannot legally reserve a toll free number without having a toll free subscriber that the number is being reserved for. If they do try to do this, this is known as warehousing. It essentially means that the number has been reserved, but there is no actual toll free subscriber for the number. The FCC prohibits this, and if a respectable organization is found to be warehousing numbers, they will be subject to penalties. The only exception to this is the for numbers that have been assigned through competitive bidding, like the numbers at the 833 auction that we mentioned above.

What Does ‘Hoarding’ Toll Free Numbers Mean?

Hoarding is where subscribers acquire more toll free numbers than they have any intention of using. Again, this is prohibited by FCC rules, along with number brokering. Hoarding includes this practice as it means that a subscriber is selling or offering to sell a toll free number.  Any respectable organization or subscriber that is found to be doing this will face penalties or legal action if the case is severe. As with warehousing, numbers that have been assigned through competitive bidding are exempt from these rules.

Is Area Code 800 Toll-Free?

Yes it is. It is toll-free for a customer to call an 800 area code number in a country within the North American Numbering Plan. This includes the US, Canada and 22 other countries.

Toll-Free Area Codes

As well as the 800 area code, the other toll-free area codes are 833, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888. They are toll-free within the USA, Canada and all countries utilizing the North American Numbering Plan. They are commonly associated with customer service lines for companies, but can be used by other parties. The 833 numbers are the latest to be added to the list, with the original set of numbers being the 800, working down from 888 to 833. Calling any of these numbers will not charge the caller, but instead the recipient of the call who is the subscriber to the toll free number.

While it is called an area code, you will never be able to figure out the location of the subscriber with a number like this as they are not tied to a specific geographical location.

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now know everything that there is to know about the 800 area code numbers. Now that you know these numbers likely belong to a business in the area, you will be able to respond to or ignore them depending on the situation that you find yourself in.

Toll-free numbers were a fantastic solution when they were invented, and helped a lot of businesses to gain more customers. Stopping customers from having to pay the cost for a long-distance call was a stroke of genius for those looking to gain brownie points with them. In the new age of technology, they are slightly less important than they used to be due to all the other methods of communication that are not available. However, they are still very much around and used to give businesses that credibility that they may otherwise lack if they listed a cell phone number instead of a professional business one.

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