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RespOrg stands for “Responsible Organization.” A RespOrg is a business that has gone through a certification process in order to have access to the centralized database of toll free numbers. The centralized database is calls the 800 Service Management System, or SMS/800. (Not to be confused with text messages, which are sent over “”Short Message Service.”) A RespOrg is usually a telephone company, but RespOrgs can be large or small, or even just one person. There are about 400 RespOrgs in the US today.

The FCC sets the rules for toll-free numbers. In 1991, the FCC mandated that all toll free numbers be portable, and that opened up the toll free industry to competition. Under current law, toll free phone numbers are assigned to subscribers on a first-come, first-serve basis. The practice of reserving a toll free number without assigning it to a subscriber is called “hoarding,” and it is illegal. The FCC mandates that a RespOrg has eight months to allocate a reserved number. Numbers are allocated, but cannot legally be bought or sold. Legitimate RespOrgs can, however, charge an activation fee and charge for the minutes used.

Vanity toll free numbers are in high demand. Because of this demand, legitimate toll free number resellers warn their potential clients to be flexible and to be creative, and to expect the most well-known vanity numbers, such as 8xx Flowers, or 8xxGoFedEx, to be snatched up right away.