How do I find the number of a payphone?

Payphone service providers are generally required to label their payphones with the phone’s area code and telephone number, along with contact information for the owner of the phone. However such information is frequently missing, either intentionally or on account of vandalism. The number displayed on the phone, when present, is not always accurate. This can happen when a payphone is moved from one place to another and the number on the label is not changed to reflect its new location.

From landline public pay telephones you can usually dial 1-800-444-4444 to hear an automated voice telling you what number you are calling from. There should be no way to hide a landline telephone’s number from that service, which is owned by MCI. (The Payphone Project initially hesitated to publish this bit of information, thinking it might irk MCI into removing the number from service. Alas, the number is published far and wide at numerous other sources, which would make its omission here conspicuous.)

If for some reason 1-800-444-4444 does not work you can try calling yourself on a cell phone with caller ID enabled, though this method is not always reliable. Some payphone service providers choose to obfuscate caller ID sent from their payphones (see “Who Called Me From 702-992-9550?”)

 

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