The new 10-digit dialing requirement will be implemented this Saturday in areas shaded in blue on this map. While optional at first, 10-digit dialing will be required as of Oct. 24, 2021.

By now a majority probably know that 10-digit dialing is coming. As a matter of fact, 10-digit dialing will be implemented this Saturday, April 24. While it will not be mandatory at this time, anyone making a phone call should go ahead and dial the area code along with the 7-digit phone number because as of Oct. 24, 2021, it will be mandatory to use 10-digit dialing.

Many may be wondering, “Why the change?”

The FCC is implementing a new 3-digit number — 988 — which will be used to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. The new 3-digit number will work just like 911 or other 3-digit numbers currently being used. Those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or are considering suicide would be able to simply dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline.

Several areas have the 3-digit prefix 988, making it impossible for the FCC to launch the 988 3-digit line without also implementing 10-digit dialing.

The entire process will take a year to implement. The first phase, which starts April 24, 2021, is basically an initial phase to give the public an opportunity to get used to dialing ten digits rather than seven. Phase two, which begins Oct. 24, 2021, will require the dialer to use ten digits in order for the call to go through. The final phase, scheduled for activation on July 16, 2022.

It is important to note that 988 is not currently active. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis should call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline until the 3-digit number is live.

This change will affect 82 area codes in 36 states nationwide. For the full list, go to https://tinyurl.com/8ycbwdcy

There are a few things that many will want to consider as this change is made:

Any phones, including cell phones, that use automated dialing systems may need to be reprogrammed to dial all ten digits. This could include life safety systems or medical monitoring devices, PBXs, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates, speed dialers, mobile or other wireless phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services and other similar functions.

Be sure to check websites, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information, personal or pet ID tags and other such items to ensure the area code is included.

The change will not affect phone numbers or dialing rates. If a call is currently local, it will continue to be a local call.

For more information, call 888-211-4727 for mobile service, 877-877-8748 for wireline/landline service, or online at https://www.fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline.

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