Area code 202
202 is the North American telephone area code for Washington, D.C. It was one of the area codes originally assigned in October 1947. The capital was assigned 202 because the North American Numbering Plan Administration wanted to keep the number of "clicks" to a minimum for densely populated areas, given the rotary dialing technology in use at the time. Though area codes as short as 5 clicks were possible for area codes covering just a city or portion of a state, area codes covering an entire state always had 0 as the middle digit. The District was treated the same as a state by NANPA, and was thus assigned an area code with 14 clicks, tied with Maryland's 301 as the second-fastest single-state area code that could be dialed under NANPA's original guidelines (0 and 1 were not allowed as the first digit, the second digit was either 0 or 1, and the third digit could not be the same as the second digit). The only faster one was New Jersey's 201.
As of 2012, there are no plans to overlay the 202 area code, as NANPA estimates the current supply of 202 numbers is sufficient at least to the year 2017. Washington is thus one of the largest cities where seven-digit dialing is still possible. However, the call will be connected if the area code is dialed. There is, of course, no provision for long-distance calls within the area code.
From 1947 to 1990, area code 202 was an unpublished alternate area code for the nearby suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, which were officially in area codes 301 and 703, respectively. This was possible because the entire Washington metropolitan area is a single LATA. Every number on the Maryland and Virginia sides of the Washington metropolitan area was given a "secret" number in 202. This arrangement allowed local calls throughout the metropolitan area to be dialed using only seven digits. For example, a telephone number in Kensington, Maryland, that was officially 301-949-xxxx could be dialed as 202-949-xxxx as well. However, on October 1, 1990, due to pending number exhaustion, the ability to dial the suburbs using area code 202 ended (to start allowing previously-impossible prefix duplications). Currently, there is no exchange code protection and local calls between area codes require 10-digit dialing (area code + number, leading "1" is not required and is usually not allowed). Due to continued growth in the region, there later came the 703/540 split in Virginia, the overlaying of 703 with 571 in Virginia, and the 301/410 split in Maryland.
Phone numbers for offices in Congress begin with 202-224, 202-225, 202-226, or 202-228.
Numbers in the 202 area code are prone to abuse for telephone fraud and vishing. A subscriber seeing 1-202 on caller ID and hearing the dreaded words "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" needs to be wary; with voice over IP the caller could be anywhere, even overseas, and can easily impersonate agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service as a means to obtain personal information for identity theft, freelance tax collection or other fraudulent schemes. Some impersonate tax authorities and threaten the victim with arrest or imprisonment to extort money; others attempt to obtain credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers. Most of these calls originate from countries such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Turkey, & Egypt. Selecting a number from the 202 area code causes "Washington, D.C" to appear on caller ID, which scammers believe leads an aura of credibility to their schemes.
- 2011 NRUF and NPA Exhaust Analysis
- NANPA Administration System: Area Code 202
|District of Columbia area codes: 202|
|West: 571/703||area code 202||East: 240/301|
|Maryland area codes: 240/301, 410/443/667|
|Virginia area codes: 276, 434, 540, 571, 703, 757, 804|