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Toll-Free Lines Get New Prefix

The trusty and well-used 800 number gets a sibling Friday when 42,000 businesses and individuals become the first to have toll-free telephone lines that begin with an 888 area code.

The nation’s phone companies have almost run out of 7-digit numbers under the 800 prefix and have been working for 14 months to get the 888 area code ready.

Computers at switching centers around the country were programmed to begin accepting the new numbers starting at 3 a.m. EST Friday, midnight on the West Coast.

The 888 prefix is one of 12 new area codes scheduled to begin operating in North America this year. Calls to 888 numbers, just like 800 numbers, will be charged to the recipient, not the caller.

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