Area codes are the first three digits that appear at the beginning of every ten-digit North American telephone number created under the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). They are prefixes that identify the Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs) where specific calls originate. Residents can easily identify the areas (county, state, or country) that certain area codes represent by conducting area code lookups with reverse phone lookup tools.
Benton County utilizes only one area code, which is:
Area Code 509
Area code 509 was created in a split from area code 206 on January 1, 1957. Some cities that area code 509 serves are Walla Walla, Spokane, the Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick), Ellensburg, Yakima, and Wenatchee.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Benton County?
Benton County enjoys coverage from the four best wireless service providers in the US, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint coverage. Verizon has the overall best coverage in the county with 100%. AT&T is the second best with 82%, followed by T-Mobile with 74%, and Sprint with 50%. These wireless service providers also provide good data quality in the county.
The National Center of Health Statistical Survey released in 2018 details the telephone status survey of adults and minors in the US. The survey reports that 58.2% of the Washington adult population only used wireless telephones. In contrast, only 5% of the adults in Washington used landlines as their sole telephony service. On the other hand, 66.6% of minors in Washington exclusively used wireless telephone services, while just 2.3% of minors used only landlines. The survey shows a clear disparity between the use of telephones and the use of landlines, revealing that most residents in Washington use only telephones instead of landlines.
Following the advancement in telephony technology, Benton County residents and businesses have begun to adopt VoIP for telephony communications. VoIP means Voice over Internet Protocol, and it facilitates video and audio communications over uninterrupted internet connections. Considering the quality of service it offers, its reach, and its sophisticated features, VoIP is cheaper to use than traditional telephones. For instance, international calls can be made at low charges, provided the users at both ends have uninterrupted internet connections. However, making international calls with regular telephones cost a lot more. Other features of VoIP are call analytics, name dialing, conference calling, anonymous calling, call rejection, auto line attendants, call routing, advanced call management, voicemail/ call forwarding, etc.
What are Benton County Phone Scams?
Benton County phone scams refer to illegal acts perpetrated over the phone. These scams aim to steal residents’ valuables or their personal and financial information. Con artists are the perpetrators of these scams, and they come up with illegal acts to deceive unsuspecting residents. The con artists mostly take advantage of telephony innovations like Caller ID spoofing. They spoof the Caller IDs of government agencies and legitimate businesses, making the calls appear legit. Consequently, it becomes difficult to identify them but easy for unsuspecting residents to fall victim to their scams. Notwithstanding, residents can utilize good reverse phone lookup services to identify spoofed Caller IDs and avoid falling victim.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) briefs residents on illegal Caller ID spoofing and the processes of using available call blocking tools and resources.
Some common phone scams perpetrated in Benton County include:
What are Benton County Border Patrol Scams?
Here, a scammer poses as an officer of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and tells the resident that they have a package with narcotics and money inside. The scammer then accuses the Benton County resident of being a suspect. At this point, the scammer will ask for financial information in a bid to steal money from their bank account. Residents are advised to be vigilant and not provide any personal or financial information over the phone.
Persons who receive such calls can use free reverse phone lookup tools to verify the authenticity of calls and answer the question, “who is this number registered to?”
What are Benton County Arrest Warrant Scams?
Arrest warrant scams are prevalent in Benton County. They involve scammers impersonating deputies of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. The impostors contact residents with the spoofed Caller IDs of impersonated entities and threaten them with arrest warrants or juror summons. They claim that warrants are out for their arrest for committing certain crimes or failing to report for jury duty. The scammers then demand payment via wire transfers or gift cards to resolve the warrants and avoid arrest.
Victims of these scams typically act in fear and make payment immediately to avoid getting arrested. However, if you receive such a call, hang up immediately and determine who called you by conducting a suspicious phone number lookup. A reverse phone number lookup tool can be used for this and can also help identify spoofed Caller IDs.
What are Benton County Unexpected Winnings Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters contact residents with claims that they have won lotteries, sweepstakes, free or discounted holidays, etc. The fraudsters then tell their targets that they are required to pay certain fees for government taxes, insurance costs, bank fees, or courier charges. They threaten that if the fees are not paid, they will miss out on the opportunity. They also demand that the recipients keep the winnings confidential for security reasons. Residents are advised to ignore such claims because they are fraudulent. In other cases, the fraudsters will collect premium rates on certain phone numbers and tell residents to dial the same phone numbers (usually starting with 190). Then, they will try to keep them on the line for a long time in order to accumulate a hefty charge
Residents should note that they are not required to make upfront payments for winnings. They should conduct phone number lookups to identify who called.
What are Benton County Fake Charity Scams?
Fake charity scams involve scammers impersonating genuine charities and contacting residents to solicit donations or collect money for relief efforts after natural disasters. In other cases, they pose as self-invented bogus charitable organizations. The scammers take advantage of the good intentions of their victims and defraud them. In doing this, they embezzle the donations, diverting them away from legitimate charitable organizations where they will have been used for good causes. Fake charity scams are most prevalent during periods of disasters or emergencies, such as cyclones, earthquakes, floods, and bushfires.
It is important to note that some scammers may go as far as setting up fake websites which look similar to those operated by legitimate charitable organizations. Therefore, make sure to conduct proper background checks on charitable organizations before donating to them. A reverse cell phone lookup can help verify the source of a call and save you from falling victim to a scam.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are automated calls sent in bulk with computerized autodialers. These calls deliver pre-recorded messages to a target audience. Because of the reach and affordability of robocalls, several entities utilize them to reach out to many people at the same time to disseminate information. Scammers also take advantage of robocalls and use them to defraud residents and steal their personal and financial information. Robocalls are designed to be solely informational, unlike live calls. However, some robocalls prompt the recipients to engage with the calls. The prompts may be for the recipients to press certain numbers to unsubscribe from the calls or connect with live agents.
Spam calls like illegal robocalls are sent in bulk to several persons without their permission. They deliver irrelevant messages to recipients, such as advertisements or proselytization messages. While spam calls may not necessarily be fraudulent, they are tiresome to deal with. Reverse phone number lookup tools help residents deal with spam calls and robocalls.
Residents may also capitalize on the FCC’s 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to report robocalls received without giving their prior consent. The FCC initiated the TCPA to regulate the use of robocalls and curtail random robocalls. Following this Act, organizations are mandated to seek the willful consent of their target audience before sending robocalls to them.
However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) permits certain robocalls to be sent without prior consent. They include:
- Solely informational robocalls
- Robocalls from legitimate health institutions
- Robocalls from charitable organizations
- Robocalls for political campaigns
- Robocalls for debt collections
Considering that fraudsters regularly flout the TCPA, it is important that residents ignore calls they identify as robocalls, especially calls from unfamiliar Caller IDs. However, you can take these steps if you unknowingly answer a robocall:
- End the call the moment you notice that it is a robocall.
- Refrain from following any prompts given during the call because doing this may lead to more robocalls, and you may even be scammed.
- Utilize the in-built call-blocking application on your phone to block the robocall number that contacted you. Phone network service providers have more call-blocking options; you may reach out to yours to explore these options.
- Add your phone number to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry to reduce robocalls. Unsolicited robocalls received after 31 days of registering are most likely fraudulent.
- File a report with the FTC to report unsolicited robocalls or call 1 (888) 382-1222 to report.
How to Spot and Report Benton County Phone Scams?
Typically, phone scammers take advantage of trending events and devise fraudulent schemes to defraud residents. Other times, they impersonate government agencies, legitimate businesses, and the family and friends of their targets. Hence, residents must be cautious when receiving phone calls to avoid being victims of these scams. Here are red flags of phone scams that residents should look out for and report if they encounter any.
- Requests to hide the details of a call and not disclose them to anyone. Ignore such requests and conduct suspicious phone number lookups to determine who called
- Bogus investment and business opportunities that have little or no risk factors with high returns
- Debt recovery schemes requiring upfront payment
- Requests for financial aid with fabricated claims
- Requests for upfront payments for tax, bank, insurance, or courier charges for alleged winnings. Do not make any upfront payment for any winnings.
- Insistence payment via bitcoins, wire transfers, gift cards, cash, prepaid cards, or other unconventional payment methods. These payment methods are difficult to trace and retrieve.
- Requests for personal information. Never share your social security numbers, mothers' maiden names, credit card numbers, passwords, etc., over the phone.
- Intimation schemes perpetrated through threats of arrest, deportation, revocation of license, and other severe consequences for not complying with demands for payment or personal information.
- The caller gets provoked by questions asked for the sake of clarity on the subject of the call.
Residents can report phone scams to any of these government agencies:
Benton County Sheriff’s Office - Contact the Sheriff’s Office on (509) 875-2275 to report scam calls.
Washington Consumer Protection - A victim of fraud can File a Complaint with the Consumer Protection Unit to report a scam. The Consumer Protection Unit provides information on trending scams in the state. Anyone that suspects fraudulent activity may visit the Suspect Fraud website for help with identifying the scam.
Federal Bureau of Investigation - File complaints of general phone scams by calling (202) 324-3000.
Federal Communications Commission - File complaints of illegal robocalls, Caller ID spoofing frauds, and other phone scams by completing the online complaint form.
Federal Trade Commission - File complaints of illegal Caller ID spoofing, identity theft, illegal robocalls, unwanted telemarketing calls, texts, or spam calls, and other scams to the FTC.