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UPDATE: 10-digit dialing will be required this year in the 219 area code
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UPDATE: 10-digit dialing will be required this year in the 219 area code

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Landline and cellphone users in the 219 area code are being required to use all 10 digits of a local telephone number when dialing to avoid conflicts with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

There is a conflict within the 219 and 574 (South Bend) area codes because they each contain telephone numbers with prefixes of 988, which is the number of the suicide lifeline, said Tom Carroll, senior vice president at the Northwestern Indiana Telephone Co.

According to the American Red Cross, house fires are more likely to happen during the winter, and especially the holidays.

This means that while setting out to dial a number with a 988 prefix in these two local area codes, a caller will first reach the suicide lifeline, he said.

The 10-digit calling is required by the Federal Communications Commission and applies to all phones within the two local area codes, no matter the provider, Carroll said.

"NITCO customers can start using 10-digit dialing immediately, all other carriers will be ready to convert to 10-digit dialing in April," he said. "The full transition will be mandatory by Oct. 24 of this year."

Calls that are now local will remain local, Carroll said, and the change will not affect the price, coverage area or other services involving those calls.

Those with telephone numbers programmed into phones and other devices are going to have to make sure the area codes are added, though some of that equipment does that automatically, he said.

"Start including your area code when giving out your phone number," the company said.

See a day in the life of Portage Patrolman Brian Graves in the latest installment of Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops.

Video filmed by Kale Wilk and produced by Scotia White. Interview by Anna Ortiz.

Area codes also should be added to business cards, stationary, websites, checks, pet identification tags and any other places telephone numbers are listed, Carroll said.

More information is available at nitco.com/10Digit.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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