Residents must dial area code starting Sunday

News File Photo A phone displays the 989 area code.

ALPENA — Northeast Michiganders will have to punch more buttons starting Sunday as phone companies move to a 10-digit dialing requirement for the 989 area code.

To allow people in distress to dial 9-8-8 to reach a suicide hotline, the Federal Communications Commission required 10-digit dialing in all area codes in which 988 may appear as the first three digits after the area code of a customer’s telephone number.

That includes the 989 area code.

Beginning Sunday, all callers with numbers in the 989 area code must dial the area code for all outgoing calls, including local calls. Callers dialing seven digits will hear a recording asking them to hang up and dial again using an area code.

The Michigan Public Service Commission encourages residents to reprogram safety and security equipment that use telephone services, such as medical alert devices and alarm and security systems. 

Residents should also update speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, or other systems that rely on programmed phone numbers. Businesses should review letterhead and other documents to be sure their phone number includes the area code.

Currently, callers need to remember and dial 11 digits to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides 24-7, free, and confidential support for people in distress and resources for crisis care professionals.

Similar to the national emergency number 911, the new 988 dialing option — slated for activation in July 2022 — will simplify access to immediate help for people in distress.

Though 989-area residents must soon dial an area code with each phone call, the price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change.

Long-distance calls will still require dialing a 1 plus the area code and telephone number.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255), even after the 988 code is in effect.


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