What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Kent County?
The block of three-digit numeric code that begins a telephone number in North America is known as an area code. Area codes were assigned when the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) divided the different regional service territories into numbering plan areas (NPAs). These numbering plan area codes identified the service territories where phone numbers are registered. The Michigan Public Service Commission administers area codes in all of Michigan, including Kent County.
Only one area code covers all of Kent County. It also covers parts of neighboring counties in Michigan. This is:
Area Code 616
Area code 616 is one of the original area codes created in 1947. It initially served the entire western half of the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. After undergoing several splits, it assumed its current coverage in 2002. Cities in Kent County served by this NPA include Caledonia, Cedar Springs, East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kent City, Kentwood, Lowell, Rockford, Walker, and Wyoming.
In 2017, the State of Michigan passed a bill that allowed phone companies to discontinue landline services, further ensuring their demise. A 2018 National Health Interview Survey reported that adults (over 18) in Michigan who favored wireless-only services accounted for 57.3% of that population. Adults who favored landlines-only services made up just about 4.7% of that demographic. The report also concluded that about 69.5% of the child population (under 18) exclusively used wireless telephony services, while just 1.7% solely used landlines. This report suggests that wireless telephony services have surpassed landlines as the preferred telecommunication service choice for Kent County residents.
In Michigan, all major phone carriers are well represented with AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, all claiming over 90% coverage across the state. While Sprint does lag behind its rivals, it has roaming agreements to make up in areas with shortfalls. Multiple Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are also available as alternatives to the major carriers. These MVNOs leverage the major carriers’ infrastructure to offer cheaper, but more limited, telephony services.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is traditional telephone services delivered by IP connections rather than copper wires and radio waves. The use of IP networks to provide phone services allows VoIP to be more efficient, flexible, and cheaper than the other telephony services. VoIP services are available from several providers to businesses and residents in Kent County.
What are Kent County Phone Scams?
Kent County phone scams describe deceptive acts perpetrated to steal money and confidential information from residents and enacted using telephone services. The Office of the Michigan Attorney General provides consumer alerts on such practices that are prevalent in the state. Residents who have been victims of phone scams can file complaints with the AG’s Office or report to the FTC. Victims can also file reports with the Kent County Sheriff by calling (616) 632-6100 or report to their local police departments. Reverse phone number lookups are capable of identifying phone scammers. Some common scams in Kent County include:
What are Sex Offender Registrant Scams?
A scammer, impersonating a Kent County Sheriff deputy, calls and informs their target that a family member has violated the Sex Offender Registry. The caller tells their victim that they must pay a fine or the family member faces arrest. Such calls typically target elderly citizens who actually have family members registered as sex offenders. The caller provides a phone number for the target to call and resolve the issue. When the target calls the phone number, they speak to someone claiming to be from the Kent County Sheriff Department. Fines are requested in vouchers, prepaid credit cards, and gift cards. Alternatively, scammers may also demand their victims’ banking information.
Residents should be wary of unknown callers asking for payments especially by such irregular channels. If you receive a call like this, contact the Sheriff’s Office on (616) 632-6100 and seek confirmation. You can also contact your local police department to make inquiries and file a complaint. Reverse phone number lookups can identify if the numbers used belong to law enforcement agencies.
What are Jury Duty Scams?
With these scams, callers contact residents pretending to be sheriff deputies or officers of the court. They inform their targets that they missed jury duty (or other court dates) and must pay fines or have bench warrants issued against them. The scammers request payment by prepaid debit cards and gift cards or arrange to meet the victims to collect cash. In some instances, they ask for the targets’ financial information.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office warns residents that such phone calls are scams. No county law enforcement agency will contact residents and threaten them with arrest warrants. Law enforcement agents will neither ask for payments to clear warrants nor insist on payments through prepaid cards. They will also never request confidential financial information over phone calls. If you receive this type of phone call, do not provide any information or meet the caller. Report the call to the Kent County Sheriff or your local police department. A phone number search service can shed some light on the phone number used for such a call.
What are 911 Caller ID Scams?
If you receive a phone call that displays 911 on your caller ID, suggesting it is from an emergency communications center, be wary. Residents receiving such calls are informed that relatives of theirs were in accidents or similar emergencies. The callers then attempt to obtain personal information, such as social security, credit cards, and insurance details, from their targets. Providing these pieces of information grants scammers access to your accounts and they will use the details stolen to commit financial and identity thefts.
Authorities inform residents that the only instances where 911 appears on incoming communications are via text messages. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from 911 or any public safety department, ask for a number you can reach them. You can then call the number or contact your local police department and verify its legitimacy. A reverse phone number lookup can also verify the authenticity of this number. Residents are advised never to give out social security, credit card, and insurance information on unsolicited phone calls. Report instances of these scams to your local police department or the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.
What are IRS Scams?
In IRS scams, fraudsters contact taxpayers while impersonating agents of the Internal Revenue Service to steal money or confidential information. The scammers leave voicemails informing their targets that they are receiving their final notices, and the IRS is filing a lawsuit against them. They provide phone numbers for the targets to call back for more information. When the victims call these numbers, they are informed of bogus past-due balances and threatened with lawsuits unless they make immediate payments. They ask the victims to obtain prepaid credit cards from local stores or provide them with the credit card numbers. Once the scammers take the money from the credit cards, it becomes complicated to identify the scammers and recover the money.
Be reminded that these phone calls are scams. The IRS always sends several mail notices to tax defaulters before initiating phone calls and will provide taxpayers with opportunities to contest tax debts. The IRS will also never request payment by prepaid cards or solicit taxpayers’ information over phone calls. If you receive one of these calls, report it to the Treasury Inspector General on 1 (800) 366-4484 or your local police department. Phone number lookup services can retrieve information on phone numbers used for IRS tax scams.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are auto-dialed phone calls that deliver pre-recorded messages. Robocalls are facilitated by auto-dialers, which are computer programs designed to dial multiple phone numbers to deliver the same messages with minimal human involvement. As a service created to enable telemarketers to reach mass audiences, it was later adopted by political campaigns and organizations making public service announcements. This was also the primary reason that scammers added robocalls to the tools of their trade. Also, robocalls guarantee users’ anonymity because the phone numbers used can be easily changed, even to official numbers of legitimate organizations. Because legitimate organizations use robocalls so frequently, residents are less suspicious when answering them, making it easier for scammers to succeed in their endeavors. Actions you should take to deal with robocalls include:
- End the call once you realize it is a robocall. Ignore any messages or prompts, as following these confirm your phone number is active and sets you up for future robocalls.
- Ask your phone service providers about the procedures for blocking numbers and use them if they are cost-effective. Telephone manufacturers also include features in their devices for blocking phone numbers and unknown callers. Use these features to block spam callers.
- Use reverse phone search free services to identify if incoming calls are robocalls.
- Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. If your phone number is registered for up to 31 days, it is restricted from receiving unwanted telephone solicitations. If you still receive robocalls after this period, these are most likely scam calls.
- File online complaints with the FTC or call 1 (888) 382-1222.
Consumer guidelines for blocking unwanted calls on any platform are also available on the FTC website.
How to Spot and Report Kent County Phone Scams?
Scammers are invariably out to steal financial and identity information from unsuspecting residents, and no one is safe from them. Services that perform suspicious phone number lookups by number, address, and name are helpful, but education and awareness remain the most effective tools against scammers. Red flags that point to an unknown caller being a potential scammer include the following:
- The caller requests for your personal information and resorts to intimidatory tactics to get you to provide it. A legitimate organization will not request personal information on an unsolicited phone call or intimidate you to obtain it.
- The caller provides unsatisfactory or no answers to your inquiries and dissuades you from seeking independent verifications of their claims.
- The caller makes overly generous offers that seemingly require little action on your part. All you need to do is make upfront financial commitments to someone you have never met.
- The caller claims to represent a reputable business or government agency and asks for payments through irregular channels such as prepaid cards, bitcoin, and wire transfers. Scammers favor these payment methods because funds sent through them are difficult to trace and retrieve once the scammers receive them.
- The caller uses threats of punitive actions such as service disconnections, arrests, lawsuits, and prosecution against you. Legitimate organizations will not threaten you to obtain payments over phone calls. If you owe them money, they will send multiple written notices as required by law before initiating phone contact.
Reverse phone number lookups are proficient at retrieving information that answers questions like “who is this number registered to?” and “who called me?” These applications come in free and paid versions. Information retrieved by these applications can come in handy when reporting phone scams. Public agencies committed to assisting Kent County residents with phone scammers include:
Local Law Enforcement Agencies - The Kent County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) and municipal police departments are the county’s primary law enforcement agencies. Residents can contact the KCSO on (616) 632-6100 to report scams. Alternatively, residents can contact their local police departments to file reports.
Office of the Michigan Attorney General - The Michigan AG’s Office provides consumer alerts against scams. Residents who believe they have been victims of frauds can also file complaints with the A.G’s Office.
Kent County Prosecutor’s Office - The County Prosecutor protects the rights, safety, and security of Kent County residents against perpetrators of crime and deviant activities. Residents can contact the County Prosecutor on (616) 632-6710.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - This is the federal authority that protects consumers in the U.S. from deceptive and unfair practices. It established the National Do Not Call Registry to address the scourge of unwanted telephone solicitations. The FTC also provides tips on call blocking that are useful against spam calls. Report cases of illegal robocalls and other deceptive practices to the FTC online or by calling 1 (888) 382-1222.
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) - This is the federal authority that regulates interstate and international communications. The FCC also protects consumers from illegal robocalls and phone spoofing scams. It issues guidelines on stopping unwanted robocalls and avoiding phone scams on its website. Victims of these offenses can file complaints with the FCC.