Why would you ever need an area code lookup? From marketing to personal safety, there’s more to area codes than you might think. All phone numbers have area codes. They typically indicate the geographic location from which a call originates. But did you know there are non-geographic area codes, too?
When might you need to use a non-geographic area code? What area codes are fake? When shouldn’t you trust an area code? In this article, we cover the importance of area codes. There are many different ways you can use them to improve your business processes and to find out more information.
If there’s ever a situation where you don’t have an area code and need to find it, or if you need to know the geographic origin of an area code, you can use an area code lookup and other tools to get the information. To start, we’ve compiled a list of 9 reasons why area codes matter.
The Origin of Area Codes
All phone numbers are comprised of a country code, a 3-digit area code, 3-digit prefix, and a 4-digit local number. Phone numbers for the United States, its territories, Canada, and the Caribbean are organized and allocated by the North American Numbering Plan Association (NANPA).
Number plan areas (NPA), or area codes, were developed by AT&T and the Bell System in the 1940s. Area codes were necessary to accommodate a nationwide long-distance direct dialing system where a call could be made to another calling area without the need for an operator.
Telephone carriers can reserve certain prefixes or exchanges (NXX) within an area code to assign to their customers. This is why you probably know many phone numbers with the same 3-digit prefix.
The last 4 digits of a phone number is the subscriber or local number. Did you know that, based on the total number of active NPA and NXX combinations reserved, each combination could have up to 10,000 possible subscriber numbers? If the current total possible number of telephone numbers is 1,699,140,000, that equates to about 4 phone numbers for every person in the United States and Canada!
With the cell phone surge in the 1990s, many people had at least two phone numbers: a landline and a mobile. Many people today have abandoned their landlines in favor of cell phones, and oftentimes the same number can be used for both.
The Original Area Codes
In 1947, AT&T and the Bell System created 86 area codes. These initial area codes excluded Alaska, Hawaii, and parts of Canada. Did you know that when allocating area codes, more populated areas and areas with high call volumes were assigned lower-digit area codes?
For example, 212 for New York and 213 for Los Angeles. This is because they are easier to dial on rotary phone numbers and don’t take as much time.
Now that you know the history of area codes, it’s time to explore how they work. Here, we list 9 ways you can and should use area codes.
1. Improve Outreach
The most important function of area codes is to make phone calls. To reach someone by phone call, you must call their 10-digit phone number. Your call can’t be completed without it nor can it be completed if you get the area code wrong.
So if you want to reach someone by telephone, you must have his or her correct area code. The same is true of sending SMS messages. Your message will not be delivered if you try to send it to a number without an area code.
If you collect customer phone numbers, landline or cell, you need to make sure you collect the area codes as well. Additionally, you need to make sure those area codes are correct. Otherwise, you won’t be able to reach them with important updates, offers, or marketing campaigns.
Or, if you simply need to contact a friend, colleague, or business, make sure you have the full 10-digit number before trying to call or text. Otherwise, your message won’t make it through.
2. Personalize Marketing Campaigns
Area codes frequently indicate the geographic location associated with phone numbers. So if you collect customer phone numbers, you might be able to use the area codes to gain other insights.
For example, you might want to send a message to a certain group of area codes addressing current events relevant to them. This is a great way to show your customers that you know who they are. It’s good for your brand to be able to demonstrate this level of organization and personalization.
Knowing the time zone allows you to reach out during active hours rather than the middle of the night. You may consider direct marketing to customers who are identified as living within a particular area code and assign teams to respective area codes.
3. Profile Data
Data profiling is the process of assessing the quality of your data. Data profiling lets you know whether your data is safe to use immediately or if you need to clean (verify or append) it first (see “Area Code Lookup Tools below).
By identifying errors before putting your data to work, you save yourself time and money by preventing mistakes. For example, you want to make sure you have 10-digit phone numbers before spending time and money calling them. Otherwise, you risk wasting resources calling numbers that you know won’t be completed.
Common errors that can be avoided through data profiling are errors in formatting, structure, and content. So you want to be sure the numbers in your database are 10 digits, spaced or hyphenated in the right places, and active.
4. Identify Fake Phone Numbers
Part of data profiling is identifying fake phone numbers. These are phone numbers that might be formatted and structured correctly (10 digits and spaced or hyphenated in the correct places), but that are still invalid. These numbers are still unreachable either because they are disconnected or because they don’t exist.
Consumers often submit fake phone numbers in an attempt to complete an opt-in or registration without providing their personal information. They might be wary of scams, want to protect their privacy, and/or try to avoid receiving marketing calls.
You won’t be able to tell whether a phone number is fake or not just by looking at it. However, the prefix “555” has been reserved by the NANPA for 10,000 telephone numbers (555-XXXX) in each NPA, or area code.
These numbers are notoriously fake because they are reserved for use in fictitious situations such as television shows, movies, video games, etc. So no matter the format or structure of a telephone number in your database, if “555” is the prefix, it isn’t an active number and should be removed.
5. Simplify Web Forms
When creating web forms for your users to submit, it’s important to be very clear about what information you need them to provide. For example, if you want to collect user phone numbers, you need to provide a sample entry or label fields clearly enough that users don’t have to guess.
When it comes to web form submissions, you want to remove as much friction as possible to minimize the chances that your form will be abandoned. Users who are asked for their phone numbers might not know if they need to provide the area code.
If you aren’t clear that you need it, you might get entries without it. And if you don’t provide clear instructions or fields to assist with formatting (Should users hyphenate or space their phone numbers?), you might get a number of different combinations.
And open fields create opportunities for data entry errors. So you might consider using validation error messages to ensure you get correctly formatted data at the point of entry.
6. Subscribe to Area Codes for Telemarketing
If you plan to telemarket, you need to know about the National Do Not Call DNC) Registry. Consumers can register their phone numbers on the DNC list if they want to avoid receiving telemarketing calls. Failure to heed the DNC list can result in thousands of dollars in fines.
However, not only do you need to look out for these registered phone numbers, but you also need to subscribe to certain area codes in order to legally telemarket to those areas. It is against the law to call numbers outside of the area codes you subscribe to.
7. Choose a Specific Area Code
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone numbers are becoming more and more popular in the business world because of their versatility. You have a lot more options with a VoIP service than you do with traditional landline service. One of the advantages of purchasing a VoIP number is the ability to choose your area code.
But why would you need to choose a specific area code? First of all, if your business has offices in different area codes, you might want those area codes to match the local phone numbers. Customers are more likely to answer a phone number that they recognize, so using a local number can help improve your outreach and message delivery.
Additionally, if you identify caller location trends and regions with high customer density, you might want to choose an area code to match that location and save money on long-distance calls.
You might also opt for a non-geographic area code. Area codes 800, 833, 844, 855, 866, 877, and 888 have been designated as toll-free, meaning the long distance charge is not paid by the customer.
Toll-free numbers are beneficial because they are generally recognized as being legitimate and trustworthy. So if you’re afraid that your customers won’t answer your phone calls or that you’ll be treated as spam, you might want to consider purchasing a toll-free number.
8. Beware of Vishing
While choosing a specific area code can be a lucrative strategy for your business needs, unfortunately the same strategy can be applied by scammers.
Vishing is the term used to refer to VoIP number scams. Typically, fraudsters will spoof a well-known company’s number to trick consumers into answering and providing personal information. Scammers can also choose local area codes to use to conduct their calls to increase the chances that their targets will answer a familiar number.
However, now that you know that not all calls or caller ID can be trusted all of the time, you can be prepared to hang up as soon as a caller starts requesting sensitive information.
9. Find Long Distance Directory Listings
If you still have a landline, your local phone company should provide you with a free published directory that covers all of your local calling area. If not, which is increasingly becoming the case as cell phone usage expands, you can dial 1+ the local area code + 555-1212 to get directory assistance.
It’s important to seek directory assistance only after you are prepared. You’ll need to have the correct spelling of the name the listing will be under, and you might need the street address. At the very least, you will need to know the city of the listing. You might also want to research the charge before placing your request as directory assistance fees vary widely among providers.
Area Code Lookup Tools
There are a number of tools you can use to get the area code information you need. First is an area code lookup tool. All you have to do is enter the area code and click “Find City” to receive the city to which that area code is assigned. Alternatively, you can enter any city and select the state to find the area code of that location.
The area code lookup tool will display the area code map, time zone, and current time. And it only costs $0.01 or 1$T (Search Tokens are needed to pay).
Or, you can use an API. Integrate our searches into your own website, application, or mobile app with XML APIs. This allows you to build apps that verify data and find personal contact information in real time.
You can also use batch tools to append contact lists and verify phone numbers. If you have incomplete or incorrect phone numbers in your customer database, a data append tool can correct and complete the data for you!
And you can batch verify numbers to identify the line type of a phone number (landline, cell, or VoIP), determine whether a number is reachable or disconnected, and identify numbers that are on the DNC list. Use batch append and phone number verification to keep records current, know your customers better, and stay compliant with data regulations.
Last, a reverse phone number lookup allows you to find the most recent name and address associated with a phone number. While area code lookup can give you the city and state of a phone number, you get more detailed information from a full, 10-digit phone number with reverse phone number lookup.
How Area Code Lookup Can Work for You
As you can see, area codes are extremely important when it comes to having complete, accurate customer data. Verify your phone data, clean it regularly, and spend your resources calling only active, accurate phone numbers that belong to the right contacts. Failure to check your phone data wastes time and money and could result in fines and lawsuits if you aren’t careful.
Once you are certain that your database is accurate, you can then use your existing data to gain additional insights such as geographic location, time zone, and regions with high customer density. You can then use those insights to personalize and improve your marketing campaigns.
Aside from marketing, it’s helpful to know from where unknown calls originate. Knowing a caller’s location can help you identify who might be trying to reach you.
It’s also important to be wary of caller ID and phone numbers that look familiar or trustworthy. While VoIP phone numbers have a great number of useful features, they also unintentionally provide scammers with the same benefits. So think twice before answering unknown numbers and never provide personal information over the phone.
Use any combination of area code lookup, batch append, batch verify, and reverse phone lookup tools to ensure the accuracy of your data. Fill in gaps, correct bad data, and know your customers better. Get started today!