What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Berrien County?
Only one area code serves Berrien County. This is area code 269. An area code is a three-digit designation for a numbering plan area (NPA). NPAs and area codes were introduced when AT&T created the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) in 1947. The NANP unified the call routing and switching systems used by North American phone carriers and networks prior to 1947. The new system made call routing easier and more efficient. The NANP introduced 86 area codes in the US in 1947. The number of area codes for the country has significantly grown since then. In a typical 10-digit American phone number, the area code is represented by the first three digits.
Area Code 269
This is the area code covering the southwest part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It was created on July 13, 2020 in a split plan that shrank the 616 NPA. Area code 269 was assigned the lower third of the NPA previously served by area code 616. Communities in Berrien County covered by area code 260 include St. Joseph, Niles, Benton Harbor, and Stevensville.
Most of the residents of Berrien County and the rest of Michigan have made the switch from landline phones to wireless ones. This is one of the conclusions of a 2018 wireless substitution survey conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The results of the survey showed that 57.3% of adults in Michigan exclusively used wireless phones for telecommunication while 4.7% of them still used landline phones only. Among residents under the age of 18, the gap between wireless-only and landline-only phone users was even wider. About 69.5% of minors in Michigan used wireless phones exclusively while only 1.7% of this demographic indicated using only landline phones.
Residents of Berrien County can sign up for phone services provided by national and regional carriers. Among the Big Three, AT&T offers the widest network in the state. Its phone network is available in 97.6% of the state while Verizon and T-Mobile boast 90.2% and 91.2% coverage respectively. Regional carriers operating in the state are smaller carriers that usually rely on the network infrastructure of bigger carriers and buy network services from them in bulk. These Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are able to offer cheaper cell phone plans by passing some of the savings from the bulk purchases to their subscribers.
Besides national carriers and MVNOs, VoIP operators also provide phone services in Berrien County. Residents and businesses in the county can enjoy lower phone bills if they already have broadband internet access when signing up for VoIP phone services. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a communication technology that enables the transmission of voice and video signals over the internet as data packets. VoIP phone plans cost less than landline and cell phone plans for long and long-distance calls.
What are Berrien County Phone Scams?
These are telephone frauds targeting residents of Berrien County or organizations in the county. Phone scams are fraudulent schemes committed using phone services with the aim of defrauding their targets or stealing valuable confidential information. To find targets for their frauds and make them victims, phone scams often use tools like caller ID spoofing, robocalls, spam calls, and phishing.
Targets of phone scams can avoid becoming victims by fighting telephone frauds with call blocking and reverse phone number lookup. In addition to using these tools, residents of Berrien County can also avoid phone scams by learning about the prevalent telephone frauds in their communities. Michigan’s Department of Attorney General publishes useful resources and a consumer alert to help residents learn more about phone scams. The Office of the Attorney General identified the following as the most common phone scams in the state: grandparent scams, lottery/prize/sweepstakes scams, travel scams, credit repair scams.
What are Berrien County Grandparent Scams?
These are impostor scams in which fraudsters call their targets claiming they are their loved ones. The most likely targets for these scams are elderly residents, hence the name of the scam. Fraudsters targeting grandparents often claim they are their victims’ grandchildren. They may also claim to be friends, lawyers, or law enforcement officials trying to help their grandchildren. These fraudsters call to ask for urgent financial help to deal with made-up emergencies. They may claim to need money to get out of jail, get out of foreign country where they are stuck, pay for legal bills, or pay for hospital bills.
Residents of Berrien County should warn their elderly relatives about these scams and teach them how to respond. Even if such callers plead for secrecy, targets of these scams should contact their family members to confirm the callers’ claims. They can also use reverse phone lookup to investigate the unknown numbers used by such callers in order to confirm their identities and locations.
What are Berrien County Lottery/Prize/Sweepstakes Scams?
These start with calls to unsuspecting residents congratulating them on winning prizes, lotteries, and sweepstakes. In most cases, victims of these scams have never heard of the competition they supposedly won and did not enter them. Fraudsters get their victims excited about the windfalls coming their way if they pay the amounts required to claim their winnings. The money requested is supposedly to cover taxes, shipping, and other processing fees.
One quick way to foil a lottery/prize/sweepstakes scam is to investigate the caller using a free reverse phone lookup. This may reveal that the caller is not affiliated with the lottery organization they claim to represent. The search result may also show that the number used had been flagged for previous scams. Regardless of the outcome of this search, residents of Berrien County should know that it is illegal for lottery and sweepstakes organizers to ask winners to pay money before receiving their prizes.
What are Berrien County Travel Scams?
Travel scams are consumer scams in which dishonest travel agencies and outright fraudsters peddle free vacations and low-cost travel packages. These scammers fail to tell their victims about hidden costs until they have already paid for their heavily discounted travel deals. Travel scammers may abscond after getting their victims to pay or fail to meet the obligations of their packages. They may book cheap hotels, fail to provide return tickets, offer no accommodation, or provide overwhelmingly poor services to vacationers. Before signing up for a low-cost travel deal, make sure to read the fineprint and ask questions. If contacted by phone, use phone number lookup to confirm that the caller is indeed authorized to sell the deal they are offering.
What are Berrien County Credit Repair Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters contact residents with bad credit scores and promise to help them repair their credits. In all cases, these are always scam offers. Repairing a bad credit takes time, becoming financially responsible, and meeting the requirements provided by credit card companies. Scammers offering to repair credits and improve credit scores usually fail to do so and often abscond. After getting paid, they may suggest that their victims’ change their identities to apply for new credit cards. This is illegal and likely to lead to even worse credit ratings.
If contacted by a stranger claiming to be able to repair your bad credit, make sure to ask them probing questions about how they intend to do so. Consult your attorney and financial adviser before taking any of the steps recommended by a credit repair agency. Before you even consider their offer, make sure to confirm the caller’s identity with a suspicious phone number lookup.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are calls placed by auto-dialers set up to deliver pre-recorded messages to long lists of phone numbers. These automated calls are useful for quickly contacting large groups of phone users. Political campaigns, telemarketers, and organizations authorized to deliver public service announcements use robocalls as low-cost, fast, and cost-effective mass communication tools. These benefits are also the reasons why robocalls are increasingly popular among scammers. These fraudsters use robocalls to cast wide nets for potential victims.
Spam calls are also unwanted phone calls placed in bulk. However, these are likely placed by actual humans working in telemarketing pools to contact potential customers with the same scripted sales pitch. The rapid adoption of robocalls and spam calls among scammers and spammers has led to the deluge of these unwanted and unsolicited calls. Most American phone users receive more robocalls and spam calls than calls from real contacts. To stem the flood of robocalls and spam calls reaching your phone, consider the following actions:
- Do not completely trust your phone’s caller ID to correctly identify strange callers. Scammers get their targets to pick up the phone by spoofing their caller IDs
- Hang up as soon as you realize a call is a robocall or spam call
- Disregard instructions given during such calls about taking your phone number off their call lists. Following such prompts will only lead to even more robocalls and spam calls
- Set up the call filtering features on your phone to block calls from unknown numbers or a blacklist of suspicious numbers. Carriers also offer call blocking features to their subscribers. Alternatively, install a well-reviewed call blocking app from your phone’s app store
- Identify unknown callers by their numbers using reverse phone lookup. This is useful for outing scammers, spammers, and stalkers before they cause harm
- Add your phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry to stop receiving calls from legitimate telemarketers. Robocalls and spam calls received 31 days after joining this list can be disregarded and reported
How to Spot and Report Berrien County Phone Scams
Spotting phone scams requires knowing all you can about telephone frauds and how scammers operate. Fraudsters change their tactics regularly to trick their targets and appear genuine. However, their aims remain to steal money and personal information from their victims. Therefore, certain aspects of their scams cannot be changed. Residents of Berrien County should look out for the following signs of phone scams:
- Asking for payment by cash, wire transfer, prepaid debit card, gift card, mobile app transfer, or cryptocurrency. Legitimate representatives of law enforcement, courts, utility companies, government agencies, financial houses, the IRS, and private organizations do not ask for money to be sent directly to them. To foil a scammer, insist on paying with a credit card and do not give out your credit card details over the phone
- Using threats to scare their targets is a common thread of impostor scams. Scammers impersonating authority figures threaten their targets with immediate arrest, prosecution, deportation, and revocation of driver’s, business, and professional licenses
- Pitching their business and investment offers aggressively. Scammers pressure their targets to commit immediately to their bogus offers knowing that the longer they take to closely consider their no-risk, high-reward offers, the more likely they will see that they are scams
- Refusing to provide documents to back their claims and verify their identities. Phone scammers are unable to provide written documentation supporting their claims and identities. Before agreeing to send money to a stranger over the phone, insist on a paper trail
- Requesting for confidential information. Scammers often dangle attractive offers, promises of windfall, or suggestions about avoiding trouble to get their victims to hand over their identity, health, and financial records over the phone
Residents of Berrien County should investigate unknown callers further with reverse phone lookup if any of these signs are present during their phone calls. Reporting phone scams help authorities find and prosecute scammers. Scam reports also increase public awareness of the types and prevalence of telephone frauds. Those living in Berrien County can report phone scams to the following authorities:
- The Consumer Protection Division of the Michigan Department of Attorney General - this agency upholds the Michigan Consumer Protection Act and prosecutes those found contravening it. In doing so, they protect Michigan residents from fraudsters and disreputable companies trying to defraud them. Report a consumer scam to the Division by calling (517) 335-7599 or (877) 765-8388 (toll free) or submitting an online complaint
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - this federal agency protects American consumers from unfair and deceitful trade practices. It investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes consumer scams. Call the FTC at (877) 382-4357 to submit a consumer scam complaint or file a fraud complaint online
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - the FCC regulates communication services and providers in the country. Residents can report illegal robocalls, spam calls, caller ID spoofing, and phishing to the FCC. Scams perpetrated using these and other phone tools can also be reported to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center