Dial 112 Instead of 911 to Contact Police in Emergency?

Netlore Archive

policeman in car chase, putting red light on roof of car
Sean Murphy/The Image Bank/Getty Images

In this viral story circulating in various forms since 2002, a female college student pursued by a man impersonating a policeman is rescued by a real police officer after dialing 112 (or *112, or #112) on her cell phone. Is 112 a valid number for emergency services on all mobile phones in the U.S.?


Description: Forwarded email / Viral text
Circulating since: 2002 (different versions)
Status: False (details below)

2013 example:
As shared on Facebook, Feb. 16, 2013:

EVERYBODY SHOULD READ THIS!!!!!!!!!

WARNING: Some knew about the red light on cars, but not Dialing 112.

An UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put his lights on. Lauren's parents have always told her to never pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road, but rather to wait until they get to a gas station, etc.

Lauren had actually listened to her parents advice, and promptly called, 112 on her cell phone to tell the police dispatcher that she would not pull over right away. She proceeded to tell the dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car with a flashing red light on his rooftop behind her. The dispatcher checked to see if there were police cars where she was and there weren't, and he told her to keep driving, remain calm and that he had back up already on the way.

Ten minutes later 4 cop cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.

I never knew about the 112 Cell Phone feature. I tried it on my AT&T phone & it said, "Dialing Emergency Number." Especially for a woman alone in a car, you should not pull over for an unmarked car. Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going on to a safe place.

*Speaking to a service representative at Bell Mobility confirmed that 112 was a direct link to State trooper info. So, now it's your turn to let your friends know about "Dialing, 112"

You may want to send this to every Man, Woman & Youngster you know; it may well save a life.

This applies to ALL 50 states


2010 example:
Email text contributed by A&J Ogden, June 16, 2010:

*112 may save your life

Some knew about the red light on cars, but not the *112.

It was about 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon, and Lauren was driving to visit a friend. An UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put his lights on. Lauren's parents have always told her never to pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road, but rather to wait until they get to a gas station, etc.

Lauren had actually listened to her parents advice, and promptly called *112 on her cell phone to tell the police dispatcher that she would not pull over right away. She proceeded to tell the dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car with a flashing red light on his rooftop behind her. The dispatcher checked to see if there were police cars where she was and there weren't, and he told her to keep driving, remain calm and that he had back up already on the way.

Ten minutes later 4 cop cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.

I never knew about the *112 Cell Phone Feature, but especially for a woman alone in a car, you should not pull over for an unmarked car. Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going to a safe place.

*Speaking to a service representative at ** Bell ** Mobility confirmed that *112 was a direct link to State trooper info. So, now it's your turn to let your friends know about *112.

You may want to Send this to every woman (and man) you know; it may save a life.

This applies to ALL 50 states


Analysis: As a rule of thumb, it's unwise to rely on anonymous viral messages for vital information about health and safety. Ask yourself these questions: Do you know where the information came from? Do you know who it came from? Do you have any reason to believe they know what they're talking about?

Variants of the above story have been circulating since 2002, when it was originally claimed that dialing #77 on a cell phone anywhere in the United States would connect the caller to police in an emergency. As we established at the time, #77 is a valid number, but only in a few select states. People in emergency situations shouldn't use #77 unless they know for a fact it works in their region.

Dialing 112 works on some devices but is NOT universally reliable in the U.S.

Newer rumors claiming that dialing 112 on a cell phone will connect the caller to state or local police "in all 50 states" are similarly misleading. Mobile calls made to 112, which is the standard emergency phone number in Europe, may — I repeat, may — be automatically redirected to local emergency services in the U.S. depending on 1) the type of device (e.g., a GSM-based phone pre-programmed to do so), and 2) the service provider used by the caller.

911 is still the only universal emergency number in effect throughout the U.S., whether you're calling from a land line or a cell phone. When in doubt, dial 911. Why play Russian Roulette with your life?

About that college student named "Lauren"

The existence of "Lauren," the female college student in the viral tale who purportedly saved her own life by dialing #77 (or 112, or #112, etc.) to notify police when an unmarked car attempted to pull her over, has never been confirmed. While officer impersonations of the type described in the story do occur, we have no way of knowing whether the specifics of this particular story are true.

Related stories:
Use Reverse PIN to Contact Police in ATM Emergency?
Cell Phone Numbers About to Go Public?
Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do

Sources and further reading:

Saline County Sheriff's Office: '112' Email Hoax
WSIL-TV News, 7 March 2013

Emergency Situation? Don't Dial 1-1-2!
Bandon Western World, 7 March 2013

Authorities Warn Against Dialing 112 for Emergencies
Journal Sentinel, 1 March 2013

Police Investigate Man Impersonating Officer, Carjacking
WRBL-TV News, 7 March 2011

Man Impersonated Officer, Patted Down Woman
The Telegraph, 22 February 2011

Dial #77 in Police Emergency (2002 Version)
Urban Legends, 22 April 2002

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Your Citation
Emery, David. "Dial 112 Instead of 911 to Contact Police in Emergency?" ThoughtCo, Jun. 10, 2017, thoughtco.com/contacting-police-in-emergency-3299092. Emery, David. (2017, June 10). Dial 112 Instead of 911 to Contact Police in Emergency? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/contacting-police-in-emergency-3299092 Emery, David. "Dial 112 Instead of 911 to Contact Police in Emergency?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/contacting-police-in-emergency-3299092 (accessed December 18, 2017).