What are Skagit County Area Codes?
There are two area codes serving the communities in Skagit County. These are area codes 360 and 564. Area codes are three-digit numeric designations for numbering plan areas (NPAs). They were introduced when AT&T created the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). The NANP simplified call routing and switching across North American phone networks. Before its introduction, there were multiple routing systems that made long-distance calls harder to connect. By dividing the US into distinct NPAs corresponding to geographic locations, the NANP made it possible to tell the origins of calls by determining where in the country the numbers used were assigned. In a 10-digit area code assigned in the US, the area code is represented by the first three digits.
Area Code 360
Put into service on January 15, 1995, area code 360 was created from the 206 NPA and covers the western end of Washington except for the Seattle metropolitan area. This area code serves all of Skagit County including Mount Vernon, Anacortes, Burlington, Concrete, and Sedro-Woolley.
Area Code 564
Originally planned to be an overlay code for the 360 NPA in 2000, the introduction was delayed until 2017. When it finally entered service, area code 564 had become an overlay complex that covered the 360 NPA as well as the 206, 253, and 425 NPAs. Currently, area code 564 serves as an overlay code for all of the communities served by area code 360.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Skagit County?
If the wireless substitution trend observed in Washington State applies to Skagit County, then most of its residents have made the switch from landline phones to wireless phones. A 2018 wireless substitution survey conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics showed that 58.2% of the adult residents of Washington County relied solely on wireless phones for their telecommunication needs. In contrast, 5% of this demographic reported being landline-only phone users. Wireless substitution is more pronounced among minors living in the state. The survey found that 66.6% of Washington State residents under the age of 18 used wireless phones exclusively while 2.3% of them still relied solely on landline phones.
Residents of Skagit County can sign up for cell phone services provided by major national carriers as well as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). Among the three big national carriers, AT&T has the most extensive network in the state. It covers 79.3% of the landmass of Washington and 98.5% of its zip codes. Verizon and T-Mobile also cover the same percentage of zip codes but their networks are only available in 69.2% and 62.9% respectively of the geographic area of the state.
MVNOs are usually regional carriers that rely on the networks of national phone carriers and buy phone services in bulk from them. They can offer cheaper cell phone plans because they pass on some of the savings from their bulk purchases to their subscribers.
Skagit County residents can also sign up for phone services provided by VoIP operators in the state. Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a communication technology that enables the transmission of voice signals as data packets over the internet. VoIP phone services require broadband internet and are cost-effective for residents with fast internet access in their homes and workplaces. VoIP phone services are usually cheaper than landline and cell phone services especially for long-distance and teleconference calls.
What are Skagit County Phone Scams?
These are telephone frauds perpetrated in Skagit County or against residents of the county. Phone scams are fraudulent schemes conducted using phone tools and services. Fraudsters running phone scams contact their targets by calling and texting them. They may use robocalls and spam calls to trawl long lists of phone numbers for potential targets. Scammers also use caller ID spoofing and phishing to trick unsuspecting residents by impersonating their loved ones and authority figures.
However, not all phone tools and services enable telephone fraud. Some are quite useful for fighting scams and avoiding scammers. These include call blocking and reverse phone number lookup. It is also important that residents of Skagit County learn about the telephone frauds commonly reported in their communities as well as how to avoid these scams. The Office of the Attorney General of Washington State publishes scam alerts and helpful tips for avoiding telemarketing fraud on its website. The Office also identifies a number of commonly reported phone scams in the state including government impersonation scams, foreign lottery/sweepstakes scams, grandparent scams, and fake check scams.
What are Skagit County Government Impersonation Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters identify themselves as employees of government agencies when calling their targets. These impostor scams are meant to scare their victims in order to defraud them or steal their identities. Government agencies commonly impersonated include the FBI, IRS, Social Security Administration, and US Department of the Treasury. Scammers may also impersonate officers of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies when shaking their victims down. These scammers may claim their targets are under investigation and need to provide certain confidential information such as their Social Security numbers. They may also demand back taxes or even offer bogus tax refunds as they seek to steal their victims’ personal information.
Anyone contacted by a stranger claiming to represent a government agency and then demanding money or personal information should contact the agency referenced directly. In most cases, a quick reverse phone lookup can show that the caller is a scammer and not a government official.
What are Skagit County Foreign Lottery/Sweepstakes Scams?
Scammers usually reference foreign lotteries in these scams because their targets cannot verify their claims as easily they could with US lotteries. There are different variations of these scams but they all involve fraudsters asking for advance fees. They will claim these fees are to pay for taxes and other charges before their victims can claim their lottery winnings or that the fees are payments to help increase their chances of winning foreing lotteries. Sweepstakes scams are also similar to lottery scams. Scammers may contact their targets to claim they have won some free prizes or that buying more of the bogus products they are offering will increase their chances of winning.
If contacted by a stranger claiming you won a lottery, sweepstakes, or other competitions, start by confirming that the competition is indeed real and that the caller represents the organizer of the competition. You can find out a lot about the caller, including who they are and where they are located, with a free reverse phone lookup. Residents of Skagit County should know that it is illegal for lottery and sweepstakes organizers to ask winners for payments before they can claim their prizes. Therefore, anyone asking for an advance fee before releasing lottery/sweepstakes winnings is most definitely a fraudster.
What are Skagit County Grandparent Scams?
These scams mostly target elderly residents and involve scammers claiming they are their victims’ grandkids. However, they may claim to be other relatives or even old friends. These fraudulent schemes are also known as emergency scams because the scammers claim they are in emergencies and need urgent financial help. They may claim to need money to get out of jail, pay hospital bills, or come home from foreign countries where they are stuck. They will beg their victims to keep the assistance a secret from other family members to avoid embarrassment.
Washington State’s Attorney General provides some helpful tips on avoiding these scams. Anyone receiving such a call should ask the caller to provide their full names as well as a detail only close family members would know. They should refrain from volunteering information that the caller may use or volunteer wrong information and see if the caller will correct them. Targeted residents should definitely contact other family members to corroborate the caller’s claims. They can also use phone number search tools to identify the callers and the origins of such calls.
What are Skagit County Fake Check Scams?
These scams involve fraudsters overpaying for goods and services with fake checks. They send checks that look genuine to their targets but the amounts on such checks are in excess of what was expected. Therefore, they ask that their targets refund the overpaid amounts while they wait for the deposited checks to clear. Victims only know that they have been duped when their banks call to inform them that the presented checks are fake.
Skagit County residents should be on the lookout for strangers paying with checks bearing amounts in excess of what they expect. Such checks should tip them off and prompt them to conduct suspicious phone number lookups to find out more about the callers sending such checks. They should definitely not refund the excess amount until the presented checks can be cashed.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are automated phone calls that send out pre-recorded messages. These can be public service announcements, political campaign messages, or telemarketing pitches. Robocalls are placed by auto-dialers and the messages they deliver are usually recorded by voice synthesizers. Therefore, they are easy to set up and deploy and cost significantly less than actual phone calls. These attributes make them attractive to scammers looking for new ways to find more targets for their fraudulent schemes.
Spam calls are also bulk unsolicited calls delivering messages to large groups of phone users. However, spam calls may have actual humans on the other end as they deliver telemarketing messages according to scripts handed to the callers. With American phone users receiving more robocalls and spam calls than calls they actually want, there are calls to find ways to curb these unsolicited calls. While lawmakers and phone carriers debate the issue, residents of Skagit County can cut down on the number of robocalls and spam calls reaching them by following these steps:
- Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize. Let these go to voicemail and then review the messages left to see which ones to return
- End a call as soon as you realize it is a robocall or spam call
- Do not follow the instructions left in robocalls and spam calls on how to stop receiving further calls. Following such prompts will only lead to more of these unwanted calls
- Set up the call filtering option on your smartphone to block calls from unknown or blacklisted numbers. Ask your carrier if they offer call blocking services or install well-reviewed third-party call blocking apps from your phone’s app store
- Identify unknown callers by searching their numbers using reverse phone lookup. The search results will help you decide whether they are scammers, spammers, or stalkers and provide the necessary information to submit actionable complaints to law enforcement and consumer protection agencies
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry to stop receiving telemarketing calls. While this will stop robocalls and spam calls from legitimate telemarketers, dubious telemarketers and scammers will still continue to ring your phone. You can report these illegal robocalls and spam calls to Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
How to Spot and Report Skagit County Phone Scams
Spotting a phone scam requires being on the lookout for red flags of telephone frauds when speaking to unknown persons on the phone. First, learn as much as you can about phone scams and the tactics used by con artists. While fraudsters change their tactics regularly, they retain certain features required to defraud their victims. Therefore, residents of Skagit County should be wary during phone calls and look out for these phone scam signs:
- Threats of immediate arrest, jail, prosecution, audits, deportation, loss of home or business, and withdrawal of driver’s, professional, and business licenses. Fraudsters running impostor scams are quick to threaten their targets to force them to send money or release confidential information
- Aggressive sales tactics - scammers pitching fraudulent business and investment offers pressure their targets to sign up immediately by claiming their no-risk, high-yield offers are only available for a limited time or by offering steep discounts for anyone signing up immediately
- Odd requests for money - if a caller claiming to be a government official, law enforcement officer, charity fundraiser, or employee of a legitimate organization wants you to pay with cash or send someone to pick up a check, then they are a scammer. Other payment methods to consider phone scam red flags include prepaid debit card, gift card, wire transfer, mobile app money transfer, and cryptocurrency
- Request for confidential information - never reveal personal and financial information over the phone. A caller claiming to work for an organization that has the information they are requesting on file is likely a scammer
- Failure to provide supporting documents - scammers refuse to provide written documentation proving their identities and backing their claims because they do not have these. Do not believe a strange caller’s claims until there is a paper trail backing it
If any of these signs tip you off, dig deeper by investigating the unknown caller with a reverse phone number lookup. If this search confirms or strengthens your suspicions, report them to the right authority. Scam reports are important because they help law enforcement and consumer protection agencies find and prosecute fraudsters. These reports also contribute to public knowledge of the activities of phone scammers.
Residents of Skagit County can report phone scams to the following authorities:
- The Office of the Attorney General of Washington State - the Attorney General’s Office protects residents of the state from consumer scams. Residents can file scam complaints about businesses operating in the state they believe defrauded them
- The Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) - this is the federal agency to contact if you have been targeted by an IRS scam. The TIGTA investigates IRS scams including those impersonation scams. Residents of Skagit County can file IRS impostor scam complaints to the TIGTA online
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - this is the federal agency responsible for safeguarding American consumers against unfair and deceptive business practices. It investigates reports of consumer and telemarketing scams. Skagit County residents can report these to the FTC by calling (877) 382-4357 or filing their fraud complaints online
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - this is the federal agency responsible for regulating the telecommunication sector and maintaining the National Do Not Call Registry. Therefore, it prosecutes those flouting the rules of the Registry and punishes the misuse of phone services and tools. Skagit County residents can report illegal robocalls, caller ID spoofing, phishing, spam calls, and telephone frauds to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center
- The Skagit County Sheriff’s Office - as the local law enforcement in the county, the Sheriff’s Office also takes reports of phone scams, especially those involving fraudsters impersonating deputies of the Sheriff’s Office. Report such impersonation scams to the Sheriff’s Office by calling (360) 428-3211