What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Oakland County?
Oakland County has area codes, otherwise known as Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs), assigned to it under the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). Area codes are the block of three digits that begin North American telephone numbers. The area codes in Michigan are under the administration of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), as directed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). There are currently two area codes serving Oakland County.
Area code 248 is a Michigan telephone area code activated in 1997 that serves Oakland County and a small part of Livingston County. Cities under this area code include Troy, Farmington, Southfield, Rochester Hills, Pontiac, Royal Oak, Northville, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Commerce, Walled Lake, Lake Orion, and Auburn Hills. Other cities also using area code 248 include Birmingham, West Bloomfield, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Berkley, Wixom, Rochester, Clawson, South Lyon, Clarkston, Holly, Ortonville, Oxford, and Milford.
Area code 947 is a Michigan telephone area code put into service in 2002 as an overlay for area code 248. It covers the same locations as the 248 area code.
In Michigan, traditional landlines are fast becoming obsolete with many residents now opting for wireless and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone services. The recently passed Michigan Telecommunications Act (MTA) has made it easier for network operators to stop offering landline services, further pushing this transition. The number of adults (aged 18 and above) in Michigan with only wireless telephone services has grown rapidly in recent years. A recent NHIS survey puts it at 57.3%. The survey also puts the percentage of adults using landlines exclusively in their homes at just 4.7%. The rate of wireless phone usage in households in Michigan is even higher among children. As many as 69.5% of children exclusively used wireless-only services in Michigan.
VoIP’s popularity and acceptance have also picked up steam as more residents and business owners dump their landlines. A 2016 MPSC report referenced FCC data that showed an increase in VoIP subscriptions by about 4.9 million nationwide between December 2014 and December 2015. Estimates suggested there were 185 VoIP service providers and about 1.85 million interconnected VoIP lines in Michigan.
Wireless service coverage is generally adequate in Michigan, with all four national telephone carriers present. AT&T boasts the best service with 97.6%coverage. T-Mobile and Verizon come in second and third with 91.2% and 90.2% coverage respectively. Sprint is far behind, only covering 56.1% of the state.
What are Oakland County Phone Scams?
Scams executed using telephony services are known as phone scams. Scammers have devised several means of using telephony services to extort money and personal information from Oakland County residents. The Department of the Attorney General for Michigan has identified common phone scams in the state. Some of the established scams are:
What are IRS Phone Scams?
IRS scams in the county come in different forms, and tax season is when these scams are widespread. The most common type of IRS phone scam involves victims getting calls from scammers impersonating tax officials and threatening punitive actions over unpaid taxes. Victims are pressured to make payments via untraceable means such as gift cards. Authorities advise residents to ignore such demands. The IRS and their collection agencies will not threaten consumers or recommend gift cards as means of payment.
In another form of this scam, fraudsters contact targets (usually senior citizens) with promises of tax rebates. The scammer claims the rebate will be paid into the target’s account once they provide certain personal information. Never share your personal information with unknown persons, especially on unsolicited calls. It gives criminals access to your private accounts. Victims of this scam can lodge their complaints with the Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s Office.
What are Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams?
Fraudsters initiate these scams by informing their targets that they have won lotteries in foreign countries. However, to redeem their winnings, the targets must pay fees for processing and taxes. Authorities warn residents that these winnings are fake. Scammers use these ploys to obtain money from targets and victims that pay up are included in “sucker lists” that are passed around. It is also worth noting that participating in foreign lotteries by telephone or mail is a federal crime. A reverse phone lookup service can identify incoming calls from foreign countries. If you have no connections in those countries, you should ignore such calls.
What are Text Message Scams?
Text message scams are also known as smishing. These are phishing scams that are carried out using SMS, hence the name. With these scams, the targets receive text messages from supposedly trusted sources that contain links for the targets to use to update their personal information. The scammers provide links to cloned versions of familiar and official websites and once the victims input their information, they get access to the victims’ accounts. A phone number lookup that answers the question “who is this number registered to?” can help prevent victims from falling for these scams. If you receive such text messages and are suspicious of the intentions, forward the messages to 7726. Alternatively, file a complaint with the FCC.
What is Phone Spoofing?
Phone spoofing is a means to facilitate many scams. Scammers use phone spoofing to mask their phone numbers and trick the Caller IDs of residents’ phones into displaying false caller information. Typically, local telephone numbers (to make targets believe these are local calls) or phone numbers of legitimate government agencies are displayed on targets’ Caller IDs.
Recently in Michigan, the numbers of local public health departments were spoofed, and residents were getting calls purportedly from the health department. Callers sought Medicare numbers among other personal information. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit warned residents to hang up immediately when callers start seeking personal information. Residents should contact the agencies the callers claim to represent via verified phone numbers and confirm if any health checks are ongoing. Scam calls can be reported to the Consumer Protection Unit.
What are Grandparent Scams?
Fraudsters use these scams to exploit the urge to want to help out relatives in distress and defraud elderly residents of the county. Scammers impersonate relatives (typically grandchildren) of their targets and ask for money to resolve emergency situations. In most instances of these scams, accomplices pose as law enforcement officials or lawyers to corroborate the scammers’ stories. Residents are advised to always confirm such stories from other relatives before sending any money. Reverse phone lookup services can provide information about these scammers. If payments were already wired to the scammers, victims should file reports with MoneyGram on 1 (800) 666-3947 or Western Union on 1 (800) 444-1492. Even if the money cannot be recovered, it will assist these payment platforms in identifying scam accounts and flag them for further actions.
Reporting scams will enable quick apprehension of the criminals and let the authorities have a better understanding of how these crimes are committed. Different avenues have been provided for residents to report scam activities. Identity thefts can be reported to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. The online complaint form of the Department of the Attorney General in Michigan is also available. Scams can also be reported to the FCC or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are recorded messages delivered through automated telephone calls. Residents listen to the messages, mostly a set of instructions, once they pick up the calls. Robocalls have been adopted by scam artists, who have recognized their usefulness in targeting residents. They use robocalls to contact their targets in an attempt to retrieve personal and financial information. Spam calls are also unsolicited calls that are used to commit fraud.
Phone manufacturers make mobile phones with spam call detection and call blocking features. Residents can activate these features on their devices to avoid robocalls and spam calls. Carriers also provide call filtering and blocking services. Subscribers can request these services from their operators to determine if they are freely offered or available as paid, premium services.
Take the following steps to reduce robocalls:
- Ignore calls from unrecognized numbers. Allow these calls to go to voicemail and call back those that left messages. Callers that do not leave messages are likely to be robocalls.
- Hang up a robocall as soon as you recognize it for what it is. The voice prompt will tell you to press a button to speak with a live person. Ignore it. Pressing a button will attract more robocalls. End the call immediately.
- Place your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Doing this will alert genuine telemarketers that you do not want to be disturbed. Apart from those excluded by law, robocalls received after registering are most likely scams.
- Report any robocall violation to the FTC.
How to Spot and Report Oakland County Phone Scams?
Scammers aim to get money or personal information fraudulently from residents. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit has identified these common tactics scammers use to get through to victims.
- Emergency Requests: Every scam pitch will always leave the victims with little or no time to do any research. Investment opportunities are usually presented to the victim as a matter of urgency.
- Odd Payment Type: Scammers will not want you to send money to them through traceable means. Gift cards, preloaded cash cards, or money wires are their preferred means of receiving payment.
- Unusual Financial Requests: Scammers also make promises of great rewards to get their victims to part with money or information. It could be the redemption of some prizes after some money is paid or better credit ratings for a fee.
- Strange Requests: Be on the alert when supposed government agencies start seeking your personal information on a call you did not initiate. They are scammers. End the call and then contact the agencies directly to seek clarification.
Combating scams is a shared goal of different government agencies. These agencies apprehend criminals and educate residents regularly on ways to avoid being victims of scams. Residents of Oakland County can get updates on scams from these government agencies:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was set up to ensure residents operate fairly in the marketplace. They have a comprehensive guide on how to identify common phone scams and how to avoid robocalls. The FTC oversees the National Do Not Call Registry to restrict calls from telemarketers. Scams and robocall abuses can be reported to the FTC through the complaint assistance page.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees the telecommunications industry. They have provided resources on how to identify spoofing and activate call blocking. The FCC has also mandated network operators to improve caller authentication services to eradicate spoofing. Report phone scams to the FCC.
Michigan’s Department of the Attorney General has a Consumer Protection Unit that releases scam alerts periodically. The department accepts complaints online and via a complaint form. Alternatively, the department can be reached by dialing (517) 335-7599 or the toll-free number (877) 765-8388.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office accepts complaints of identity thefts online. Scam calls and other scam activities can be reported to the Sheriff’s Office by dialing the non-emergency number (248) 858-4950.