How do I get my old phone number back?
October 14, 2006 10:06 AM   Subscribe

How do I purchase my old phone number?

So I moved, had to get a new phone number. It happens. But now my alma matter's released their yearly screenplay directory, and it still has my old number (I moved after the submission deadline, so I couldn't get it changed).

I tried calling my old number so I could just ask the current residents to forward my calls, but I just got the "not in service" message. Does anyone know any special tricks to getting the phone company to sell you back your old number? The other problem is that I'm currently in a different borough (Brooklyn, used to be in Manhattan).
posted by ®@ to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total)
A friend moved out of counrty last year and got a VOIP service with his old BellSouth number. If you called one of these (such as Lingo or Vonage, although there are a ton of others) as a potential customer, they may enlighten you upon the regulations governing this. You may also try a different phone company in the area. I assume there are regulations that force the company to release the number to other companies, but not within their own organization. The phone company you currently use may make an exception if they think they will lose you as a customer.

Keep in mind I am not recomending any of the VOIP services above.
posted by Yorrick at 10:58 AM on October 14, 2006

Have you tried calling your phone company to ask em?
posted by raf at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2006

Use tndatabase to find out which telco owns the number. Then call them and see if you can get service with it. Telcos do give you latitude to choose numbers, even with a residential account, if you just ask. The only restriction might be if the phone exchange does not service the installation location.
posted by zek at 11:39 AM on October 14, 2006 [2 favorites]

You can often get around the exchange problem by asking the phone company to "park and forward" the line in its home exchange. They install it, but it doesn't ring anywhere except a pre-determined forwarding number. It will usually cost you the same as a real phone line, but you'll be paying that on top of the cost for your Brooklyn line.

Most telcos are not obliged to release a vacant number to a competing telco or VOIP provider. However, if you're already a customer and you want to port "your" number to an alternate provider, barring any problems, it's got permission to go with you.
posted by Sallyfur at 11:17 PM on October 14, 2006

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