The ‘ghost’ phone numbers every Australian needs to know about that will NEVER get answered no matter how many times they’re called
- A list of fake telephone numbers is provided for use in films and television shows
- While fictitious US phone numbers start with 555, the numbers in Australia vary
- The system is controlled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority
- Anyone can take and use a fictitious number from a long list on ACMA’s website
They are the ‘ghost’ phone numbers that belong to no one and will never be answered no matter how many times they are called.
Many viewers of American films and television shows would be used to seeing fake phone numbers starting with 555 on their screens but there is similar ploy used for Australian audiences.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority maintains a database of 30 fictitious mobile numbers and thousands of unused landline options that cover every state and territory.
The list exists to allow producers of films and television as well as authors and artists to use a phone number in their work that has never been allocated to anyone.
They are the ‘ghost’ phone numbers that belong to no one and will never be answered no matter how many times they are called. The Australian Communications and Media Authority maintains a database of 30 fictitious mobile numbers and thousands of unused landlines
A list of fake phone numbers allows producers of films and television as well as authors and artists to display a number in their work that has never been allocated to anyone. The system is meant to prevent the owners of telephone numbers being inundated with unwanted calls
The ACMA has a section of its website addressing the issue, which might seem trivial unless your number is advertently used in a TV program and you become the recipient of hundreds of unwanted telephone calls.
‘Do not use real phone numbers in radio, books, films and television,’ the website states. ‘People often call them. We have phone numbers you can use for the work you publish or broadcast.’
The 555 convention used in the United States dates back to the 1950s and has generally removed the chances of film and television creators broadcasting someone’s real number.
The producers of the 2003 film Bruce Almighty chose to use 776 2323 as a way for Jim Carrey’s title character to contacting Morgan Freeman, who played God.
That number was not in use in Buffalo, New York, where the movie was set, but its use in the film caused problems across the country.
Viewers of American films and television shows would be used to seeing fake phone numbers starting with 555 on their screens. That convention was not followed in the 2003 film Bruce Almighty in which Jim Carrey’s character was sent the number 776 2323 to call God (above)
The phone number 776 2323 was not in use in Buffalo, New York, where Bruce Almighty was set but it was a legitimate number in other states and owners including a Colorado radio station and North Carolina church were inundated with calls
Unfortunately, 776 2323 was a legitimate number in other states and owners including a Colorado radio station and North Carolina church were inundated with calls.
When the makers of hit 1984 film Ghostbusters asked, “Who ya gonna call?” the number to dial was 555 2368, which was also later used in the movies Memento and Fight Club.
In Australia, fictional mobile numbers start with 0491 and landlines with either 5550 or 7010 followed by any four digits. The numbers can be prefaced with 02, 03, 07 or 08 area codes.
There is also one premium rate number – 1900 654 321 – and almost a dozen 1800 and 1300 numbers available for use.
Call any of the fake mobiles and you will hear: ‘Your call could not be connected. Please check the number and try again.’
There is no application process to use the numbers, so ACMA does not know how often they are used.
When the makers of hit 1984 film Ghostbusters asked, “Who ya gonna call?” the number to dial was 555 2368, which was also later used in the movies Memento and Fight Club
‘The ACMA has set aside certain fictitious phone numbers for use by content makers and authors to prevent real phone numbers being used,’ a spokesman said.
‘Landline numbers have been set aside for many years, and more recently we’ve also reserved mobile and smart numbers for the same purpose.
‘The reservation of these numbers is part of our overall management of telephone numbers and wasn’t directly sparked by any particular incident.
‘Other countries do the same, for example, the North American Numbering Plan designates some numbers with the prefix 555 for use as fictitious numbers.
‘To make using the fictitious numbers easy, they’re available on our website and we regularly promote their use through social media.’
Further details about the system can be found here.
The full list of fake Aussie numbers
Premium rate number: 1900 654 321
Mobile numbers: 0491 570 006, 0491 570 156, 0491 570 157, 0491 570 158, 0491 570 159, 0491 570 110, 0491 570 313, 0491 570 737, 0491 571 266, 0491 571 491, 0491 571 804, 0491 572 549, 0491 572 665, 0491 572 983, 0491 573 770, 0491 573 087, 0491 574 118, 0491 574 632, 0491 575 254, 0491 575 789, 0491 576 398, 0491 576 801, 0491 577 426, 0491 577 644, 0491 578 957, 0491 578 148, 0491 578 888, 0491 579 212, 0491 579 760, 0491 579 455
Landlines: Central East (covering NSW and ACT) (02) 5550 XXXX and (02) 7010 XXXX; South East (covering VIC and TAS) (03) 5550 XXXX and (03) 7010 XXXX; North East (covering QLD) (07) 5550 XXXX and (07) 7010 XXXX; Central West (covering SA, WA and NT) (08) 5550 XXXX and (08) 7010 XXXX
Freephone and local rate numbers: 1800 160 401, 1800 975 707, 1800 975 708, 1800 975 709, 1800 975 710, 1800 975 711, 1300 975 707, 1300 975 708, 1300 975 709, 1300 975 710, 1300 975 711