What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Ingham County?
Area codes, which are the sequence of the first three digits in phone numbers, are assigned by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). They help to differentiate the Numbering Plan Areas (NPA) within U.S. states. Area codes identify the origins and destinations of telephone calls. The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) administers and implements area codes in all of Michigan. The only area code serving Ingham County is 517.
Area Code 517
Area code 517 is a Michigan telephone area code that covers the central-southern part of the state, including Ingham County. It was put into service in 1947 as one of the original 86 area codes. Ingham County cities and communities within the 517 NPA include Mason, Lansing, Leslie, Williamston, and Stockbridge.
Effective January 1, 2017, the Michigan Telecommunications Act (MTA) permits telephone companies that wish to discontinue providing landline services to do so. This contributed to a mass shift by residents of Ingham County from landlines to wireless telephony services, as documented in a 2018 CDC survey. Michigan's survey report estimated that about 57.3% of adults (over 18 years) had adopted solely wireless telephone services while about 4.7% used landlines. Among the under-18 population, the survey revealed that about 69.5% were wireless-only users, and 1.7% still used only landline phones for telephony services.
Unlike traditional telephony services that use Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses the internet for telecommunications. VoIP offers lower call rates and provides convenient features such as video calls and long-distance calling at affordable rates. As a result of this, it is fast becoming the telephony service of choice for individuals and businesses in Ingham County.
All major wireless service providers in the United States provide network services for most communities and cities in Ingham County. However, AT&T currently has no coverage in Mason, the county seat. Mason enjoys 98% coverage of Verizon and 70% cover by T-Mobile. Sprint has the smallest spread of about 60% in the city. Ingham County residents also enjoy affordable network services provided by some Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).
What are Ingham County Phone Scams?
Ingham County phone scams are fraudulent actions performed with telephone services in the county to extort unsuspecting individuals. These actions aim to steal money and confidential information from targeted residents. When a phone scammer steals information, they are more than likely to commit either identity or financial theft. Even though most phone scammers disguise by spoofing telephone numbers of legitimate entities to deceive their marks, reverse phone lookup services can uncover their real identities. Ingham County residents who use phone number lookup tools for verifying unknown phone numbers on incoming calls are more likely to avoid phone scams. Telephone services adopted in phone scams include live phone calls, text messages, and robocalls.
The Michigan State Attorney General’s Office (AG) protects residents from phone scammers through consumer protection education. Likewise, the Ingham County Sheriff's Office, in conjunction with the AG, FTC, and FCC, is relentless in its effort to free the county of phone scams. The following are some common phone scams being perpetrated in Ingham County:
What are Stimulus Payment Scams?
As a part of the federal economic relief response to COVID-19, the federal government is sending stimulus payments to residents to cushion the pandemic effects. Unfortunately, phone scammers are taking advantage of this to get naive residents to disclose their personal information. The callers are pretending to be with some federal agencies to extort Ingham county residents. Usually, they offer to speed up the process of getting stimulus payments, but targeted persons must pay processing fees upfront. Their preferred means of receiving payments are gift cards and wire transfers. The scammers will also inquire about their targets' bank account numbers, social security numbers, and other financial information while pretending to help them. The appealing part of this scheme is where scammers offer to help deposit stimulus checks directly into their marks' bank accounts once they have the needed details.
Ingham County residents should know that the government does not charge any fees for stimulus payments. Anyone claiming to be with the government and asking you to pay some fees to receive stimulus payment is out to extort you. You can use applications that provide reverse phone number lookup services to uncover the identities of such callers. Also, there is no application process for disbursing stimulus payments. They are paid to residents automatically by direct bank deposits or mailed checks. If you are contacted by text message to provide certain confidential information to receive stimulus payment, do not fall for it. It is best to delete such messages immediately. Remember that the government has your information on file and will not ask you to provide or confirm them.
What are Utility Scams?
Ingham County residents are targeted daily by utility scammers. These scams fly because the last thing anyone wants is to have utilities turned off. The callers will pretend to be representatives of their marks' local utility companies and inform them that their bills are overdue. They demand immediate payment of such bills and threaten to shut off heat, power, or water if they do not pay quickly. These scammers call at the most inconvenient times and are usually aggressive. They mostly insist on getting paid via Green Dot debit cards, wire transfers, and bitcoins. Sometimes, they request digital payments using applications such as Zelle and Cash App. In other instances, utility scammers may ask their targets to provide credit account information to settle delinquent bills and will usually stay on the phone until payments are concluded. In another variant of this scam, fraudsters may offer to enroll their marks for a federal government program that purportedly reduces energy bills. However, they will need some information to sign up such targets on the program, a ploy to commit identity and financial theft.
If you receive this type of call, conduct a reverse phone lookup on the caller's phone number to obtain their identity information. Do not pay anyone who alleges to be with your utility provider over the phone, especially if they insist on getting paid via irregular channels. A legitimate utility company will never do that or solicit information over the phone. To avoid falling prey to utility scams, end these types of calls and contact your utility provider on their official phone numbers for verification. You can retrieve such phone numbers from your old bills or the company's official website.
What are IRS Debt Collectors Scams?
Sometimes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contracts some private debt collection agencies to recover overdue federal tax debts from taxpayers. Fraudsters, however, take advantage of this arrangement to cheat Ingham County residents out of their money. They claim to be with any of these private agencies to demand immediate payment of delinquent taxes. These scammers favor odd payment channels like wire transfers and gift cards. They are arrogant and usually threaten to arrest their marks and put them in jail if they do not pay up owed taxes immediately. Free reverse phone lookup applications can help retrieve the identity information of such callers.
Residents must know that any agencies contacting them regarding overdue taxes without first being notified by the IRS are scammers. Before engaging private debt collection agencies, the IRS will inform taxpayers via written notices, after which the hired collection agencies must send initial contact letters. The private agencies' letters will confirm the transfer of taxpayers' IRS accounts to them. Be wary of anyone who calls you out of the blue to demand tax payments without this process. Do not disclose confidential information or send money to them, especially not over the phone. Hang up such calls and report them online to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Note that a legitimate debt collection agency will not threaten or harass you because they are aware that you also have some rights.
What are Credit Repair Scams?
Beware of fraudsters who contact you and claim to be with credit repair companies promising to fix and give you a clean credit report. The credit repair scam is typically targeted at Ingham County residents with bad credit reports. Such persons are usually not qualified for any credit facilities in the United States and will do whatever it takes to fix their reports. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns residents never to fall victim to their deceptive schemes because there is no legitimate credit repair company. They all end up doing nothing to improve credit reports. These scammers often request upfront payments from their targets to provide credit repair services and warn them not to contact any credit reporting agency. Sometimes, they will offer to create new credit identities for their marks, and consequently, novel credit reports, but it is all lies.
Note that any company that promises you a new credit identity is illegal and is only interested in ripping you off. They usually request their targets' confidential information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and bank account details in an attempt to commit financial and identity theft. Do not reveal such data to anyone in an unsolicited call. You can retrieve these callers' identities using phone number search applications and report them to local law enforcement.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are automated calls that deliver pre-recorded messages. When used by phone scammers, robocalls aim to steal unsuspecting persons' money and personal information, or both. It is possible to ascertain if a telephone call is a robocall using applications that offer suspicious phone number lookup services. Spam calls are typically targeted at identifying active phone numbers. They are randomly sent out to mass phone numbers, and robocalls are a type of spam call. You can avoid falling victim to illegal robocalls by taking the following steps:
- End a call immediately you realize it is a robocall. Even if your caller ID displays a familiar phone number, do not listen to its messages.
- Inquire about call blocking procedures from your telephone company and block the phone numbers used for robocalls. A lot of phone companies provide call-blocking services for free. You can also download a compatible call-blocking application for your cell phone type to block identified robocall numbers.
- Report robocall numbers online to the FTC.
- Register your number at no cost on the National Do Not Call Registry. It is easy to identify illegal robocalls and avoid robocall scams after registration.
How Can You Spot and Report Ingham County Phone Scams?
Most scams are new twists of the old ones. Although phone scammers keep finding ways to deceive their targets, having information on the latest scams can help Ingham County residents to spot phone scams before they get cheated. Residents can uncover the identities of phone scammers by doing reverse phone lookups on unknown phone numbers. If you observe the following during a phone conversation with an unknown caller, it is a potential scam call:
- The caller requests that you pay via odd channels. Scammers typically favor gift cards, bitcoins, and wire transfers because payments made on them are difficult to trace and reverse.
- The caller pressures you into sharing confidential information or making an on-the-spot decision. Legitimate companies will not pressure you into patronizing them.
- The caller scares you to act immediately and attempts to dissuade you from reaching out to anyone to verify their claims.
- The caller claims to work for a business and requests that you pay some money when you have no previous contact with such a company. They sometimes spoof their targets' caller IDs to make them appear legitimate. Always verify an unknown caller's claim by contacting the company on their official contact channels, even if you are familiar with them.
- The caller is unwilling to provide clarifications on their offer when you seek one.
- Anyone who calls and claims to be with the government to demand money or request confidential information is a scammer. Government agencies and their employees will never ask you for such over the phone.
Various public agencies are making efforts to combat the scourge of phone scams in Ingham County. They implement policies to protect consumers, educate residents with scam alerts, and guide them on avoiding phone scams. These agencies encourage residents to register reports of phone scam incidents on all available channels. They include:
Federal Trade Commission - The FTC manages the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce the problem of unwanted telephone solicitations. To report illegal robocalls and phone scams in Ingham County, residents can file their complaints online or by calling 1 (888) 382-1222.
Office of the Michigan Attorney General - The AG’s Office educates residents with consumer alerts in a bid to help them avoid phone scams. Ingham County residents who are phone scam victims can file complaints online with the AG’s Office or by calling (517) 335-7644.
Federal Communications Commission - The FCC provides tips on stopping unwanted robocalls and avoiding phone scams. You can file complaints online with the FCC if you fall victim to unwanted calls and other phone scams.
Ingham County Sheriff's Office - This is the primary law enforcement agency in Ingham County charged with investigating fraud cases, including phone scams. Residents can file phone scam complaints online with the Ingham County Sheriff's Office or by calling (517) 676-2431.