Published on: November 13, 2022
Reading time: 11 min.
You may have been watching a movie or TV show and noticed a phone number containing the number "555". If you call that phone number, chances are the number will be disconnected, but does that mean that all phone numbers containing 555 are fake? Not quite - 555 phone numbers have a long history that originally began in the 1950's, and some phone numbers containing 555 are still in use today.
555-XXXX phone numbers were assigned and used internally by local exchange carriers prior to the creation of a set of rules called the 555 NXX Assignment Guidelines. Throughout history, the use of 555 numbers had been primarily in support of Directory Assistance (DA) services (such as 555-1212).
In 1994, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) issued a proposal to allow 555 numbers to serve as an information assistance and directory service for use within the callers specific geographic region. For context, NANPA is the administrator for all phone number area code plans within the United States, and takes direction from the Federal Communications Commission.
For example, if you lived in New Jersey and called "555-1212", you may have heard a recording of information specific to New Jersey. If you called the same number from a different location outside of New Jersey, you might have heard completely different information depending on where you called from.
Around the same time, NANPA opened up applications to reserve a 555 phone number. Many phone number carriers and phone routing companies applied to use these 555-XXXX phone numbers between 1994 and 2016, but most had issues implementing the technical requirements. There were even some individuals who registered 555 numbers directly with NANPA, which didn't work out very well if the individual did not also own a phone company to ensure the number could be connected and routed correctly. There were multiple phone companies and carriers who protested that setting up these 555 numbers would be too expensive to support.
NANPA began to reclaim most of the 555-XXXX phone numbers starting in 2015. The majority of the numbers were inactive to begin with, and some even belonged to individuals who were long deceased. By 2016, the majority of 555 numbers were completely reclaimed and out of use.
Verizon was notorious for charging high fees to establish service to 555 numbers, charging $2,500 for each area code that you wanted your 555 number to be routed in. This resulted in many owners of 555 phone numbers unable to use their 555 number without paying very high fees. If you had the money and wanted to register your 555 phone number so it could work throughout the United States, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the number of area codes that Verizon would need to configure.
Why did Verizon charge so much money to setup a 555 phone number? Verizon representatives told The New York Times that a national 555 system would require broad application of Advanced Intelligent Network, which adds new services to existing telecommunication switches, and would cost Verizon at least $108 million to implement.
There are a small number of 555 phone numbers are in use today. Calling (Area Code) 555-1212 or (Area Code) 555-4334 in most regions of the United States will result in the caller being routed to the carriers' 411 service. Additionally, the following block of 100 phone numbers are reserved specifically for entertainment and advertising purposes. If you see a 555 phone number in a movie, chances are it falls within this range! It's important to note that there is no "555" area code, but you can see a full list of all area codes here.
|555-0100 - 555-0199||None||This range of 555 numbers are reserved for use in Advertising / TV Shows / Movies|
|1-800-555-1212||None||May require caller to enter area code in place of "800". Reserved for Directory Assistance information|
|1-800-555-4334||None||May require caller to enter area code in place of "800". Reserved for Directory Assistance information|
|1-800-555-3453||Internal Revenue Service||Used for the IRS EFTPS Tax Payment System|
The majority of 555 phone numbers have been reclaimed and are no longer in use. For a historical list of all registered and reserved 555 phone numbers, please see the historical 555 phone number directory list.