What is a personal number? (Also known as a ‘follow me number’)

Follow me, also called personal numbers, are telephone numbers in the UK that begin with 070. The numbers should not be confused with more commonly used 07 numbers. 07 numbers are majorly used by pagers and mobile phones. Since their introduction into the UK market in 1995 by Ofcom the numbers have slowly gained popularity and are now widely used by both big and small businesses as well as individuals.

How 070 Numbers Work

Personal or follow numbers allow the owner of the number (either individuals or businesses) to redirect incoming calls made through the personal number to other lines in different locations. For instance, a business may set up the number as a customer care service number – although this is more commonly done with business 03 numbers and low-rate 08 numbers these days. When customers call it, their calls are redirected to the phone line of a free customer care agent.

Typical users of follow me numbers

Personal numbers are used by both business organisations and individuals. For instance, a business organisation may publish a 070 number to be used for out-of-office hours enquiries. Customers calling the number such hours will be redirected to mobile phones of the person who is on duty. They may even be redirected to a line in a foreign country. Many companies nowadays use Indian call centres to deal with enquiries made during out-of-office hours in the UK.

The use of personal numbers is not just limited to business organisations; it is also widely used by individuals. For instance, if your work schedule is flexible enough to allow you to work from either home or office, you can set up a 070 number so that incoming calls are redirected simultaneously to you office and home telephone line. You can also set it up in such a way that if you work from home in the morning and office in the afternoon, all calls made to the personal number in the morning hours are redirected to your home line and those made in the afternoon hours are redirected to your office line.

Many people also use personal numbers as temporary numbers. For instance, a person selling a car may advertise it on various marketing websites using a personal number instead of their mobile phone numbers. Enquiries made to the personal number are then redirected to the person’s mobile number. Once the car is sold the person disables the personal number. Many people find this use of a personal number a better alternative to publishing their personal mobile number on marketing websites.

Benefits of using 070 numbers

As earlier pointed out 070 numbers allow you to remain accessible wherever you are. This is important for business people who are always on the move but don’t want to use their personal mobile phone numbers to conduct business activities.

Another benefit of ‘follow me’ number is the relatively low cost of setting it up and using it. Setting up the number costs nothing, there are no charges for call diversion to mobile phones and there are also no call divert charges to landlines. In addition you get to enjoy free fax to mail.

Cost of calling 070 numbers

Calls made to 070 numbers usually cost slightly more than calls made to landline or mobile phone numbers. This is because they are never included in the bundle or inclusive minutes of the network provider. The call prices are usually based on the retail price list of BT landline. Calls from other networks will therefore vary from network to network. You can check your network provide to get information on how much it will cost you to call a 070 number. On average a caller may pay up to 42.55 p in addition to VAT per minute. Therefore, if you plan to set up a personal number for your business it is important that you put into consideration the effect of increased call costs for your customers on your business.

Regulation of 070 numbers

In the UK, regulation of 070 numbers is done by Ofcom which introduced the numbers to the UK market 22 years ago. However, there are situations where Phonepay Plus may regulate the usage of 070 numbers. Such situations include when the per-minute call cost exceeds 5p and when there is evidence that they are being used for wrong reasons.