The 800 Service Messaging System (SMS/800) is a U.S. based organization in charge of routing and administering all toll-free numbers (800, 844, 855, 866, 888, and 877) in North America. (This includes Canada and the Caribbean, not just the U.S.) They are authorized to do so by the FCC.
What this means is that SMS/800 is used by AT&T, Qwest Communications, and Verizon Communications (service providers which assign toll-free numbers) to verify the availability of a toll-free number, reserve it, establish a routing record for a customer, and ensure records are properly downloaded to local exchange carrier Service Control Points (SCPs) - all in order to properly handle toll-free calls. Think of SMS/800 like the back-bone of the 800 service in the same way that ICANN is the back-bone of Internet domain names.
These service providers pay various fees to SMS/800 to keep it functioning, including per-request charges, monthly recurring charges, and non-recurring charges. For instance, let's say Verizon reserves an 800 number on behalf of a business customer of theirs like Chase Bank. Verizon must then pay 15.3 cents per month to SMS/800, as each service provider has to pay this amount for every toll free number that they actively route. While this might not seem like a lot, there are approximately 23 million toll-free numbers in service. That means AT&T, Qwest Communications, and Verizon Communications are collectively paying over 42 million dollars per year (in monthly fees) to support the infrastructure of SMS/800.
You can check whether or not a toll-free number is currently available by using 800ForAll as well as SMS/800. This is useful if you want to have a toll-free number that spells a certain word, such as 1-800-FLOWERS.
Wide Area Telephone Service (WATS) was the original 800 number. Businesses would pay a high annual fee to get the line, which would handle both incoming and outgoing calls. With a WATS line, businesses could then call people in a certain area at a significantly reduced price, either on a per-call or per-minute basis. Or, they could receive calls at no cost to the caller. In 1976, WATS lines brought into AT&T a billion dollars in annual revenue.
Find out about suspected toll-free scam phone calls and other nuisance calls and texts - all thanks to our active community of CallerSmart users. Run a reverse phone lookup on any toll-free phone number to see what others have reported about it as well.
Frequent Toll-Free Spam and Scam Calls
Recent Toll-Free CallerSmart User Activity
Our Hall of Shame highlights the numbers of the worst toll-free phone scammers and spammers. Below you’ll find the worst offenders according to our community of CallerSmart users when it comes to toll-free phone scams. These are the toll-free numbers with the lowest Trust Factor ratings and the most negative feedback so please beware!
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If you've been the victim of a toll-free phone scam or fraud, then be sure to file a complaint with the appropriate authorities.