Now that a national suicide prevention hotline is using 988 as its number nationwide, many Americans must now dial their area code in addition to the seven-digit phone number to make a local call.
That’s because many residential and business seven-digit phone numbers in various states start with 988. To avoid phone system confusion, the Federal Communications Commission ruled people who live in states that are part of the 988 hotline system and also have local phone numbers that start with 988, must dial the area code first in addition to the local number.
North Dakota is among the states participating in the 988 program.
However, thanks to the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the area code mandate will not affect the state. North Dakotans can still dial the usual seven-digit number.
In March, the PSC, working with telecommunications companies serving the state, eliminated any local phone numbers starting with a 988 prefix from public use.
It was a relatively easy move — upon investigation, the PSC found only 33 phone numbers in the state started with 988. Those who had one of the numbers were given a new phone number.
With that move, if someone in North Dakota now dials 988, it will go to the suicide prevention hotline and not to any local residential or business phone.
Taking that action removed North Dakota from the FCC requirement to use 701 before every call.
You can read more on the PSC’s action here.