What are the Best Cell Phone Plans for Jackson County?
There is only one area code serving all of Jackson County. This is area code 517. An area code is a three-digit designation for a numbering plan area (NPA). A numbering plan area is a geographic area considered as a unit in a North American telephone network as defined by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). AT&T created the NANP in 1947 to replace the conflicting phone exchange systems in place before then. Upon its introduction, the NANP created 86 NPAs in the United States and assigned area codes to these. In a 10-digit North American phone number, the area code is easily recognized as the first three digits.
Area Code 517
Area code 517 serves the communities in the central part of the lower half of Michigan located around the state capital. It is one of the original 86 area codes created in 1947 and still remains one of the largest area codes not to cover an entire state. It was expanded to include Jackson but then shrunk on April 7, 2001 when it was split to create area code 989. Besides the City of Jackson, communities in Jackson County currently served by area code 517 include the villages of Brooklyn and Concord; and the townships of Hanover and Waterloo.
A 2018 wireless substitution survey conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics showed that most of the residents of Michigan have already made the switch from landline phones to wireless phones. In that survey, 57.3% of adult residents of the state solely used wireless phone services. This is in contrast with the 4.7% of the demographic that relied exclusively on landline phones for telecommunication. Among minors in Michigan, 69.5% of them were exclusive wireless phone users while 1.7% of this population still used landline phones exclusively.
Residents of Jackson County, and the rest of Michigan, can sign up for phone services from any of the big national carriers as well as regional MVNOs. Among the national phone service providers, AT&T has the widest coverage with its network available in 97.6% of the state. T-Mobile follows closely with 91.2% coverage of the state while Verizon and Sprint boast 90.2% and 56% coverage respectively.
MVNOs, or Mobile Virtual Network Operators, are small carriers that rely on the network infrastructure of bigger carriers to deliver phone services. They buy network services in bulk and repackage them in phone plans that are appealing to the residents living in the areas they serve. Cell phone plans offered by MVNOs are usually more affordable than those advertised by national carriers.
VoIP service providers also offer phone services in Jackson County. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a communication technology that converts analog signals to digital ones and transmits them over the internet as data packets. VoIP phone services rely on broadband internet access. Residents with fast internet connections at home and work can easily sign up for VoIP phone services and enjoy lower phone bills for long and long-distance calls. In addition to phones, VoIP phone service users can also make calls from their computers and tablets.
What are Jackson County Phone Scams?
These are telephone frauds committed in Jackson County or targeted at residents of the county. Fraudsters use calls and text messages to find new targets and run their scams. Phone services allow scammers to deceive and defraud unsuspecting strangers that live far away from them. To trick residents of Jackson County into picking their calls and believing their claims, phone fraudsters use tools and services like caller ID spoofing, spam calls, robocalls, and voice phishing.
Residents and law enforcement agents also have tools to fight and avoid phone scams and scammers. The most effective ones include call blocking and reverse phone number lookup. In addition to using these tools, it is also important for Jackson County residents to be aware of scam trends in their communities. The Consumer Protection Division of Michigan’s Department of Attorney General identifies the most common phone scams in the state. These include grandparent scams, debt collection scams, charity scams, and travel scams.
What are Jackson County Grandparent Scams?
These telephone frauds begin with calls or text messages from strangers claiming to be the grandchildren of the call recipients. Grandparent scams mostly target elderly residents. While the scammers often claim to be their victims’ grandkids, they may also make them believe they are their distant relatives or old friends. While impersonating a loved one, a scammer running a grandparent scam asks for urgent financial help to deal with an emergency. They may claim to need money to get out of a foreign country where they are stranded, get out of jail, pay hospital bills, or pay legal fees.
Michigan’s Attorney General asks that residents educate their elderly relatives about this scam. Even if the caller asks for secrecy and claims telling others will embarrass them, it is important for anyone contacted in this way to tell others. They can call the grandchild directly or other relatives to confirm the caller’s claims. A free reverse phone number lookup can also easily out the caller and prove they are not the relative they are impersonating.
What are Jackson County Debt Collection Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters call unsuspecting residents and lie about the amounts, statuses, or due dates of their debts. They may claim to represent debt collection agencies and threaten to arrest, sue, or repossess their victims’ cars and homes if part or all of their debts are not paid immediately. Besides the readiness to threaten their targets, these scams fail to fully identify themselves and openly violate the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. A quick suspicious phone number lookup can confirm that a stranger calling for immediate debt repayment is not affiliated with a legitimate debt collection agency and not authorized to collect debts.
What are Jackson County Charity Scams?
Charity scams are most common during periods of disaster and holidays. Most people are willing to donate during such occasions and expect charities to call them soliciting donations. Telephone fraudsters use caller ID spoofing to trick their targets into believing they are fundraisers for legitimate charities. They may name their charities to sound similar to legitimate ones, hoping their targets will not catch the difference. It is possible to determine if a caller is truly affiliated with the charity they claim to be raising funds for with a phone number lookup.
Michigan’s Attorney General informs residents to confirm the status of charities before donating to them, ask probing questions about how donations are used, and request written documentation before sending them money. Residents of Jackson County can confirm the registration of charities requesting donations in Michigan by calling one of these organizations:
- Attorney General’s Consumer Charitable Trust Section - (517) 373-1152
- Better Business Bureau (Grand Rapids Office) - (800) 684-3222
- Better Business Bureau (Southfield Office) - (248) 223-9400
- Charity Watch - (773) 529-2300
What are Jackson County Travel Scams?
Fraudster and dishonest travel agencies run these scams by offering free and low-cost vacations to attract residents looking for bargains to visit their favorite destinations. These scammers knowingly fail to tell their victims that there are hidden costs. Travel scam victims only learn about these costs on their way to their destination or when they reach their vacation spots. They may find that the four-star hotel accommodation promised in the travel package is a rundown hotel in a seedy part of town. Dishonest agencies may also conveniently fail to tell their victims that their packages did not include return tickets, accommodation, or sightseeing tours at their vacation destinations.
Before paying for a heavily discounted travel package, make sure to fully research the package as well as the agency offering it. Searching for the destination or the travel agency online may reveal reports of previous scams. Scammers pretending to be travel agents can be unmasked with reverse phone number searches. These may indicate that they are not representatives of the trusted agencies they claim to represent. Such searches can also reveal that the numbers used by the strange callers were previously associated with similar scams.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are automated calls that deliver pre-recorded messages to a large number of phone users. Individuals and organizations deploying robocalls usually have auto-dialers placing these calls and messages recorded speech synthesizers. Spam calls are also bulk phone calls sent to large groups of phone numbers. However, they are likely placed by actual humans reading from prepared scripts.
When first introduced, most robocalls were placed by political campaigns, telemarketers, and organizations delivering public service announcements. These days, most of the robocalls received by residents of Jackson County are from scammers and dishonest telemarketers. With the number of spam calls and robocalls received by residents going up every year, these unwanted and unsolicited calls are big nuisances. There is an ongoing push for phone companies to take a more proactive approach at stopping these calls. While Jackson County residents wait for proposed anti-robocall initiatives to be put in place, they can stop or reduce the number of robocalls and spam calls received by doing the following:
- Do not trust your phone’s caller ID function to correctly identify callers. Scammers use caller ID spoofing to make their calls appear to be coming from trust sources
- Let calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail where you can review the messages left and determine which ones to return
- Hang up on a robocall or spam call as soon as you confirm you have answered one
- Use the call filtering function on your phone to block calls from all unknown numbers or select numbers. Carriers and some third-party call apps also offer call blocking features that rely on checking incoming calls against blacklists of flagged numbers
- Identify individuals registered to unknown numbers with reverse phone lookup searches. Identifying repeat callers is important when reporting phone scammers, stalkers, and spammers to law enforcement
- Add your phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry. This will signal to legitimate telemarketers that you no longer wish to receive their calls. Robocalls and spam calls received a month after listing your numbers on the Registry are most likely from scammers and dishonest telemarketers
How to Spot and Report Jackson County Phone Scams
Phone scammers make little changes to their fraud schemes in order to stay one step ahead of their victims and law enforcement. However, new phone scams are usually variations of old ones. All scams have the same goals: defrauding unsuspecting targets and/or stealing their identity and financial records. To avoid phone scammers, residents of Jackson County should stay informed of emerging scam trends in their communities. Spotting telephone fraud is quite easy if you know what you are looking for. The following are common threads in most phone scams:
- Use of threat - fraudsters running imposter scams resort to threats to get their targets to comply with their demands. Their threats are effective because they impersonate law enforcement agents, government officials, IRS agents, debt collectors, and support representatives of banks and tech companies
- Use of high-pressure sales tactics - scammers running business and investment frauds pressure their targets to make immediate commitment by telling them their low-risk, high-yield offers are only available for a limited time
- Request for payment via unofficial channels - scammers running imposter frauds ask their victims to pay by methods not listed on the official websites of the organizations they represent. They may ask for payment in cash or by prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, cryptocurrencies, and mobile app transfers
- Refusal to provide paper documentation to verify identity and offer - not wanting to leave a paper trail, scammers often cannot provide written documents to support their claims
Residents of Jackson County should report all interactions with callers as soon as they identify these red flags. It is important to report phone scams, whether they are successful or not. This helps law enforcement and consumer protection agencies identify, find, and prosecute fraudsters. Reporting also increases public knowledge and awareness of phone scams and scammers’ tactics. Jackson County residents can report incidences of phone scams to the following agencies:
- The Consumer Protection Division of Michigan’s Department of Attorney General - this is a unit dedicated to investigating reports of consumer and telemarketing frauds committed in the state or targeting the residents of Michigan. File a complaint with Michigan’s Consumer Protection Division by calling (517) 335-7599
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - as the federal consumer protection agency, the FTC is responsible for protecting Americans against consumer fraud and unfair business practices. Report a phone scam involving any of these to the FTC by calling (877) 382-4357 or submitting a fraud complaint online
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - the FCC regulates all communication in the country and monitors the use of communication tools and technologies. Jackson County residents can report illegal robocalls, spam calls, phishing, and caller ID spoofing to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center
- The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office - along with other local law enforcement agencies in the county, the Sheriff is the primary law officer in Jackson County. Residents can report phone scams to the Sheriff’s Office by calling 9-1-1 and speaking to E911 dispatchers