Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team
What’s A Collect Call?
A collect call is a way for somebody to reverse the charges of a telephone call, making the receiver have to pay the bill. Landlines used to make this process downright simple, but after the discontinuation of collect call acceptance from Verizon, it became more difficult.
Nowadays, most cell phone networks will not allow the user to accept a collect call, especially not for free – but there are ways to deal with this. Although it is impossible to accept a collect call for free, it’s possible to make contact cheaper. We’ll explore that today.
Accepting Collect Calls
Collect calls being accepted will depend largely on your cell phone’s plan. If your cell phone plan accepts collect calls, then you’re part of the way there – but it’s not free.
You’ll receive the call which will then inform you that an inmate from a particular jail is trying to make a collect call to you and will then ask you if you will accept the charges. If you choose to accept the charges, the call will be outlined on your next cell phone bill.
Different networks will have different charging systems. AT&T for example charges nearly 10 dollars for 20 minutes of a collect call, but these calls can’t be made from a pay phone to an AT&T cell phone.
Even if your cell phone plan is with AT&T, which is one of very few cell phone providers that allows for collect calls, it isn’t particularly easy. The person contacting you can’t just call your cell phone number, they need to call 1-800-CALL-ATT and then select the option to collect to wireless when asked, and at which point they enter your cell phone number.
If you’re unsure whether your cell phone provider allows you to receive and accept collect calls, you should check with your provider by contacting them or checking your plan, either via your online account or your physical contractual agreement.
There are third parties that offer services to let callers make a collect call and charge you their way. Typically though, they cost a lot more than you’d expect.
Calling Card Option
If you go to a grocery store, a convenience store and most other stores, you can find calling cards. Calling cards act as prepaid cards that allow a person to contact you. This is a fantastic option if there is a person you want to speak with regularly. Normally, you can put between $1 and $20 on them and you can purchase either an international or domestic card.
Calling cards are a great option and are very easy to access and pay onto. If you have the time to look around, you may be able to source cheap calling cards which offer lower call rates, saving you more money! Money that would have been spent on a collect call each time.
The Google Voice Option
This is perhaps the only way to make a call from jail for free. If you and your prospective caller both have Google accounts, you can set each other up and both of you can contact each other for free via your numbers. It’s difficult though, as most jails will not allow cell phones.
Inmate Debit Calling
This will depend on where the inmate is, but if it is approved, an amount of credit can be purchased via the commissary and the inmate can contact their numbers that are listed on their debit account.
What About Call Apps?
Correctional facilities will differ on their rules, but if they do allow for it, you can potentially sign up for some call apps and make contact with your chosen inmate.
Why Are Calls From Jail Always Collect Calls?
It’s added stress when a friend or family member is in jail as every single time you want to speak with them, you’ll either have to pay large costs or physically travel to their place of incarceration. This isn’t always easy if they’re incarcerated in a different state.
This is part of the reason why jails refuse to pay for telephone calls because they do not want to pay the bill for many inmates making long distance calls. You may have even noticed, if you’ve ever decided to accept a collect call from prison – that the charges seem exorbitantly high.
This is due to the phone companies that place much higher charges on calls from prison phones than they do for any other place!
Due to this, prisons often make deals with phone companies to share the profits – for example, New York state’s prisons had their accepted calls at 57% which makes around $20 million per year! Although in more recent times, people are trying to urge New York correctional facilities to make their calls free.
What Might Affect An Inmate’s Ability To Make Calls From Jail?
An inmate might find themselves with a few issues when trying to make calls from jail. These problems could be:
- The intake process required for the inmate has not yet been completed in its entirety
- The prison is on lockdown due to things such as a prison riot
- The inmate does not have enough funds on their prepaid caller card
- The weather has knocked the phones out and the inmate is struggling to connect
- The inmate has had calls temporarily revoked due to behavior
- The approved list for callers that the inmate can call does not include certain people
- The inmate has lost, or had removed, the list of telephone numbers they were going to use
You can’t make calls from jail to a cell phone for free, but there are ways to reduce the costs using some of the above methods.