Coveted Digits Showing Up Out Of NYC And Local Residents Aren't Pleased

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Start spreading the news.

The “212” area code is slipping out of New York City thanks to Internet-based phone companies.

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The coveted digits that mean so much to so many are showing up in other states and many New Yorkers don’t like it.

“It’s almost like a badge of honor,” one man told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang on Tuesday.

“It means New York City!” another woman remarked.

But the next time you dial the area code, you might reach someone who lives outside the city — not even in New York state.

The Internet phone company Vonage is assigning 212 numbers to customers across the country.

“By switching 212 to anywhere else in the world, you’re just…mushing us together,” said another man.

Bronx born and raised Sedina Osmanaj runs Lumber Liquidators on the Lower East Side and said having a 347 number is beyond annoying. Some customers don’t realize where she’s based.

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“With a 212 number, it’s synonymous with Manhattan, it’s synonymous with New York City. So you know without a doubt where you’re calling,” Osmanaj said.

So why can companies like Vonage hand out the precious digits?

Here’s how it works:

The company purchases a set of phone numbers from a federally regulated company, through a regional middle man. The numbers are random, based on availability, and sometimes happen to start with 212.

In the city, getting a 212 number is not impossible, but it’s rare. Phone companies said it depends on supply and luck.

Mathematically, 212 numbers started running out 15 years ago. Now, 212s are in the mix when someone cancels their number.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal that would give Internet phone companies direct access to available numbers, enabling 212 numbers to be more easily available to non-New Yorkers.

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