Wrong number
A misdialed call or wrong number is a telephone call
Telephone call
A telephone call is a connection over a telephone network between the calling party and the called party.-Information transmission:A telephone call may carry ordinary voice transmission using a telephone, data transmission when the calling party and called party are using modems, or facsimile...

 to an incorrect telephone number
Telephone number
A telephone number or phone number is a sequence of digits used to call from one telephone line to another in a public switched telephone network. When telephone numbers were invented, they were short — as few as one, two or three digits — and were given orally to a switchboard operator...

. This may occur because the number has been physically misdialed, the number is simply incorrect, or because the area code or ownership of the number has changed. In North America, toll-free numbers are a frequent source of wrong numbers because they often have a history of prior ownership.

The recipient
Called party
The called party is a person who answers a telephone call. The person who initiates a telephone call is the calling party....

 of a wrong number is usually unknown to the caller
Calling party
The calling party is a person who initiates a telephone call over the public switched telephone network, usually by dialing a telephone number....

. This aspect has been used in social science experiments designed to study the willingness of people to help strangers, and the extent to which this is affected by characteristics such as race. This experimental method is known as the "wrong-number technique".

On a landline
A landline was originally an overland telegraph wire, as opposed to an undersea cable. Currently, landline refers to a telephone line which travels through a solid medium, either metal wire or optical fibre, as distinguished from a mobile cellular line, where transmission is via radio waves...

, wrong numbers are harmless to the recipient other than the annoyance of answering an unwanted call. But on a cellphone, if the plan charges minutes on incoming calls, a wrong number may cost the subscriber one or more minutes.

Sources of misdialed calls are similar to sources of typographical error
Typographical error
A typographical error is a mistake made in, originally, the manual type-setting of printed material, or more recently, the typing process. The term includes errors due to mechanical failure or slips of the hand or finger, but usually excludes errors of ignorance, such as spelling errors...

  • Pressing one or more wrong keys on the keypad of the phone (example 2379 rather than 2349)
  • Pressing a key on the dialpad
    Dialpad Communications was an early pioneer in the Voice over IP industry that was founded in 1999 after spinning off from Serome Technologies in Seoul, Korea and moving to Santa Clara, California in the United States...

     more times than appears in succession in the phone number, thereby completing the length of the number prior to completing the intended number (example 7522-7 with the final 7 being ignored rather than 7527)
  • Getting the digits in the phone number out of order (example 3416 rather than 3146)

Proper telephone etiquette
Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group...

 requires that the wrongly dialed party polite
Polite may refer to:* Politeness* Polite architecture, or the polite: a form of building design which is aestheticly led and characterised by intentionally incorporated stylistic or romantic features...

ly inform the caller of that fact, and also that the caller apologize
Regret or Regrets may refer to:* Regret * Regret, France, a village about 2 miles south-west of Verdun* Expression of regret, a common gambit in politics and public relations, used as an alternative to actually apologizing...

 rather than simply hanging up
In telephony, the term on-hook has the following meanings:# The condition that exists when a telephone or other user instrument is not in use, i.e., when idle waiting for a call. Note: on-hook originally referred to the storage of an idle telephone receiver, i.e., separate earpiece, on a switchhook...

. Often the two parties will confirm whether or not the intended number is indeed the number that was reached (e.g. "Is this 555-0184?") before ending the call. It is widely considered "dangerous" for the called party to disclose their phone number — rather it is considered more prudent to require the calling party to state which number he dialed and for the called party to simply confirm whether or not that is his number. The reason for this perception is unclear.
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