To aid in implementation of a new, nationwide, suicide prevention crisis line, the Federal Communications Commission will soon be making 10-digit local telephone dialing mandatory.
The new National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline can be reached at 988. This three-digit number was reduced this summer from 11-digits.
To accommodate the change, beginning Oct. 24, callers must dial 10 digits — the area code and telephone number — for all local calls.
On and after this date, according to AT&T, local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed and a recording will instruct the caller that their call cannot be completed as dialed. The caller must hang up and dial again using the area code and seven-digit number.
“In addition to changing your dialing patterns, all services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment that are programmed to complete calls to seven-digit local numbers will need to be reprogrammed to complete calls to 10-digit numbers,” AT&T said.
Some examples of these devices are life safety systems or medical monitoring devices, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarm and security systems and gates, speed dialers, mobile or other wireless phone contact lists, call forwarding settings and voicemail services.
AT&T cautioned people to check their websites, personal and business stationary, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information and personal or pet ID tags.
AT&T said that, although there are some changes coming, much will stay the same. Telephone numbers, including current area codes, will not change. The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the new dialing. What is a local call now will remain a local call, regardless of the number of digits called. Callers will continue to dial 1 plus the area code and telephone number for all long distance calls.
“You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 relay services, and 911 emergency services. Any 211, 311, 411, 511, 611 or 811 service available in your community can still be reached by dialing their three digit codes,” AT&T said in a statement.
With Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Travis Maze echoing his sentiments, Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt said he foresees no problems with area law enforcement dispatch systems as a result of the change.
“I have no concerns, as most people already use 10 digits on their cell phones. Obviously, 911 won’t be impacted,” Schmidt said.
People with questions may call AT&T at 800-288-2020 or access att.com for more information.