Black Market: Toll Free Phone Number Brokering

As with any commodity in high demand, a black market for toll free numbers has emerged in the United States, sending regulators scrambling to control the illegal sales of valuable 800 numbers.

With toll free service soaring in popularity while finite supplies of available numbers drop, attempts to illegally buy and sell choice numbers on the black market is increasing.

According to regulations enacted on April 11, 1997 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) toll free phone numbers cannot be sold or brokered. These rules were approved after the FCC fielded numerous complaints about price gouging for catchy vanity numbers and popular numeric sequences.

The FCC reports that anyone caught attempting to sell or broker an 800 number faces significant fines. But that hasn’t stopped brokers from attempting to sell numbers on Internet websites and auction sites such as eBay.

As “public resources” that cannot be bought or sold, the FCC deemed the practice of selling specific vanity numbers or numerical sequences illegal. Opponents say this practice hurts the industry because it limits the best use and most practical assignments of specific numbers. Still, the FCC has held fast, cracking down on illegal sales and regulating the assignment of numbers on a first-come, first –served basis from the main database of available numbers maintained by 800 Services Management System (SMS/800).

In 2005, the FCC yanked control of 1-800-Red-Cross from a private California business owner who was leasing the use of the number to local chapters of the Red Cross. When the charity filed a formal complaint, the FCC determined that the brokering was illegal and handed over control of the number to the non-profit.

The attempts to profit from the illegal sale of 800, 888, 877, and 866 numbers are in response to rapidly dwindling supplies. Experts advise anyone interested in obtaining an 800 number should legally obtain a toll free number through a a reputable service provider.

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66 Responses

  1. more on brokering at fcc.gov

  2. So it is illegal to broker a number for a fee

  3. I was charged 49.99 to search for a number myself and have it temporarly activated until i had to transfer it

  4. yeah pretty much any phone company allows you to search for a number before you order it.

  5. So it is illegal to broker a number for a fee

  6. the FCC needs to start whipping some butt when it comes to brokers.

  7. Its only illegal if they do not provide a phone service.

  8. I activated a number at tollfreenumbers.com and they made me transfer my account to a phone company because they just sell numbers. isnt that brokering?

  9. Its only illegal if they do not provide a phone service.

  10. how can some of these websites sell vanity toll free numbers then?

  11. Its only illegal if they do not provide a phone service.

  12. I am from Peru – is this info applicable to peru too?

  13. is it ok to become a resp org for the sole purpose of selling vanity numbers? What if you just sold them through your search tool for other companies?

  14. Any recommendations on where we can obtain more information on this

  15. that would be illegal then it sounds like

  16. good point

  17. good point

  18. good point

  19. Hey, at least you are getting better than normal customer service.

  20. How do you use the free service

  21. Phone call for Al…Al Coholic…is there an Al Coholic here?
    Wait a minute…
    Listen, you little yellow-bellied rat jackass, if I ever find out who you are, I’m gonna kill you!

  22. Having one child makes you a parent; having two makes you a referee.

  23. My name is Werner Brandes, my voice is my passport. Verify me.

  24. Without a rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar.

  25. “Please hold while your call if forwarded to our customer service department in India”… ***** ***** ***** *****!!! ‘ello dis is Dakshesh how may I assist you? Hahahaaa….. can’t wait to try that one!! Then I can get out my cursing before the call, great! Who knew?

  26. well, since 1960, 800 numbers have been increasing in popularity

  27. reynold’s site is 400% better

  28. Noo, I can’t dial 1-800-MYLEMON!!!

  29. Noo, I can’t dial 1-800-MYLEMON!!!

  30. I really wish that I could get the 800 number of my horrible hosting company. Man.

  31. Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.

  32. 1-800-I-love-brand-new-carpet

  33. Just keep trying it only took me about 7 tries to get through.

  34. Wisdom begins in wonder.

  35. my number 1. my debt collectors have been calling me alot lately

  36. Personal opinion here, but it’s not about the price of the call.

    I’m in the UK; our equivalent is 0800, but it’s essentailly the same as 800 in the US. On most mobile networks here, you get charged for calling 0800, at the same rate as calling a normal fixed line phone.

    So, it’s not the price that I see when I call, it’s the image of the company. Unless I spot a company with a familiar area code such as my local area, I’m going to go with the company that looks the most impressive. Given the choice between two identical offerings, one from a company on 01987 532345 and another from 0800 4532345, I’ll go with the 0800 offering every time.

    It’s like domain names. Who would you buy from? http://www.flowerpots.com or hometown.aol.com/tedsflowerpots

  37. […] has also recently flip-flopped on the toll free number brokering issue. In the past, he has claimed to be a toll-free number broker (one of the best he claimed) but more […]

  38. My name is Werner Brandes, my voice is my passport. Verify me.

  39. I once had to call eBay… what a nightmare. I wish I’d never found their number, as the “service” was so horrible and the experience even worse.

    Nonetheless, this is a great resource to have handy – I’ve bookmarked it. Thanks for sharing this info with us.

  40. Can anyone vouch for Tip #1? Because it would be damn awesome if it works.

  41. Wisdom begins in wonder.

  42. […] has also recently flip-flopped on the toll free number brokering issue. In the past, he has claimed to be a toll-free number broker (one of the best he claimed) but more […]

  43. Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.

  44. If you want truly to understand something, try to change it.

  45. My name is Werner Brandes, my voice is my passport. Verify me.

  46. So…lets all call the RIAA free 800# and then report minor piracy reports. Like things that can never be proven.

    Example: A friend of mine, I think he might have downloaded a copyrighted song at some point. His name? Tom Smith. I don’t know where he lives or anything. No I don’t know his phone number.

    Imagine them getting 20,000 of those calls.

    OR

    Is this weight watchers? No? Sorry wrong number.

  47. how long will it take before the NSA starts using this, no more calling from phone booths, to hide your number

  48. Two things are infinite : the universe and human stupidity; I’m not sure about the universe.

  49. To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want it.

  50. Someone needs to record it for the rest of us…

  51. Patience is not a virtue, it is a waste of time.

  52. American Idol is gonna be a lot worse now…

  53. One thing you can give and still keep: my word.

  54. A smile is the lighting system of the face, the cooling system of the head and the heating system of the heart.

  55. The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions.

  56. it’s a pity, advertisements say that 0800 numbers are free and when you start to use you realize that it’s not! And nobody told you before that if you call from mobile, you have to pay, from skype – to pay… it’s not fair!

  57. This is great marketing. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  58. It was about time! This is good news! Hopefully they’ll do the same with the others

  59. […] January 21, 2010 · Leave a Comment As with any commodity in high demand, a black market for toll free numbers has emerged in the United States, sending regulators scrambling to control the illegal sales of valuable 800 numbers. Get more on this phenomenon here. […]

  60. […] Get a Toll Free From a Reputable Provider Posted on December 22, 2010 by smsgov It’s not just human organs on the black market in today’s world – you can get almost anything… Some things shouldn’t be illegally sold but it happens every day. You buy a pair of jeans and don’t want them anymore – what do you do? If you want to try your hand at selling them, no big deal – you bought them, you can sell them, right? People sometimes don’t know what they are and are not allowed to sell and one big business for illegal sale is toll free numbers. That’s right! Think of this, a person comes across a really nice toll free number and thinks, “I bet I could sell this to someone for $1000′s!” Bad idea? The worst – check out what could happen by reading more here. […]

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