The areas of the U.S. still using seven-digit dialing will be required to move to 10-digit dialing as of Oct. 24, 2021.

Mandatory 10-digit dialing will go live as of Oct. 24, 2021. For those who haven’t began using 10 digits, now is a good time to start so you will be accustomed to the practice by implementation day. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s going on?

There’s going to be a nationwide deployment of a three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline: 988. The FCC approved the plan last summer. It works just like 911 — if you are having a mental health crisis, you will dial 988. But before that can be implemented, dozens of area codes around the nation have to move to 10-digit dialing. (Note: This crisis line number is not in effect yet. For now, dial 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline.)

Why is 10-digit dialing necessary?

Because the 988 prefix exists in our area code and, therefore, everybody making calls to it would inadvertently dial the crisis line. Ten-digit dialing will avoid that.

How many area codes does this affect?

A number of area codes across the nation, including Montana’s 406 area code, which have not adopted 10-digit dialing must make the transition (dialing the area code followed by the number; no need to dial 1 unless it’s long distance or your plan already requires it. If you dialed a 1 in the past, still do it. But for local calls, just the 10 digits). The other area codes that will go to 10-digit dialing in Arizona are 480 and 928. That’s three of the five area codes in the state. Nationwide, 82 area codes in 36 states are affected by the change. For the full list: https://dftcommunications.com/miscellaneous/10-digit-calling-faqs/

What’s the timeline?

Remember three dates:

As of April 24, 2021, all areas could begin using 10 digits to allow residents in those areas to get into the habit. Seven-digit calls were still allowed during this transition period.

On Oct. 24, 2021, you must dial 10 digits for all local calls. If you dial seven digits, it won’t go through and you’ll get a recording.

The 988 number for mental health assistance went live July 16, 2022.

What else do I need to know?

You might need to reprogram automatic dialing equipment (including your cell phones) or other equipment that dials calls for you. Examples: 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 your website, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information, your personal or pet ID tags, and other such items to ensure the area code is included.

What will remain the same?

Your phone number and area code do not change.

Dialing rates don’t change.

What’s local now will be local then, regardless of how many digits you dial.

What if I have questions?

Call 888-211-4727 for mobile service or 877-877-8748 for wireline/landline service. Or go to the FCC website: https://www.fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline

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