What are Champaign County Area Codes?
Area codes are the string of three-digit numbers that distinguish each Numbering Plan Area (NPA) in the North American telephone service areas. They precede local phone numbers and are established by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) manages all the area codes serving Illinois, including the one in Champaign County. The only active area code in Champaign County is the 217 NPA.
Area Code 217
Area code 217 officially came into service in 1947 as one of the original 86 area codes. It covers many counties in Illinois, including Champaign County. Champaign County cities and villages under the 217 NPA include Urbana, Tolono, Fisher, Philo, and Pesotum. Others are Sidney, Savoy, and Mahomet.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Champaign County?
United States lead phone carriers, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, are present in Champaign County, each with varying coverage levels and network signal. In the City of Urbana, Sprint provides a coverage of 94%, while Verizon covers 86% of the city. T-Mobile has a coverage score of 82%, while AT&T extends a 78% spread.
Landlines phones are gradually going obsolete in Illinois as more residents continue to adopt cell phones for telephony services. A 2018 CDC survey reviewed phone usage among Illinoisans. The data gathered from the survey revealed that 59.8% of the adult population had adopted wireless-only telephony services. Only 3.0% of them used landline phones as their sole telephony gadgets. The reports for the children population indicate a similar drift. The increased rate of wireless telephony service adoption is due to the convenience and portability that cell phones provide. They provide better functionality than landline phones.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is an alternative telephony service for Champaign County residents. Residents' massive adoption of wireless devices has continued to feed its high rate of adoption county-wide. VoIP transmits data over internet connections and provides two-way and real-time communications between users. Champaign County residents and businesses enjoy cheaper telephony rates using VoIP.
What are Champaign County Phone Scams?
Phone scams in Champaign County run on telephone services by fraudsters to cheat county residents out of their money and obtain information. When phone scammers acquire victims' confidential information, which they often do fraudulently, they commit identity and financial theft. Live phone calls, text messages, and robocalls are the primary telephone services that scammers use to perpetrate scams. Phone scammers are aware they may not ordinarily be able to have their ways with residents, and as such, they usually spoof their targets' Caller IDs.
Phone spoofing enables them to take up the official phone numbers of familiar government agencies or reputable businesses. Scammers pretend to be the representatives of such entities to win their marks' trust and then extort them. Reverse phone number lookup applications are capable of detecting spoofed phone calls. This, in turn, can prevent Champaign County residents from falling victim to phone scams. The Office of the Illinois Attorney General (OIAG) periodically publishes and educates residents with consumer alerts and warnings. It is the state's primary consumer protection agency. Phone scams identified as prevalent in Champaign County include:
What are Champaign County Utility Scams?
Scammers are pretending to be employees of local utility providers in Champaign County to cheat residents. The callers typically prey on both business and residential customers of utility companies to steal money or fraudulently obtain information. Residents may be able to retrieve their identities using applications that offer reverse phone lookup services. The fraudsters often claim that their targets have outstanding bills, that if not paid immediately, will lead to service disconnection. Their preferred means of receiving payments include wire transfers and prepaid cards. They may also request their marks' credit card information, including PINs, to effect payment for the backend. Utility scammers are heavy users of phone spoofing. They manipulate their targets' Caller IDs to display official phone numbers of local utility companies to fool their marks and increase their likelihood of success.
It is crucial to state that employees of legitimate utility providers do not threaten service disconnection over the phone. While they may have open-ended payment options, genuine utility companies will never solicit payment by gift cards, wire transfers, or other unconventional channels. Before shutting off services, the norm is that utility providers would have sent multiple written notifications to their customers by mail. Anyone who calls you out of the blue to threaten disconnection without previous written warnings is a scammer and should be treated as such. Never send money to unknown persons over the phone to clear alleged outstanding utility bills. If you receive this type of call, hang up and contact your local utility provider on their official phone number to validate the caller's claim. You can retrieve such phone numbers on your previous utility bills.
What are Champaign County COVID-19 Scams?
Authorities warn Champaign County residents to beware of fraudsters who are taking advantage of the global coronavirus pandemic to extort naive persons. They attempt to fool county residents with various kinds of phony claims for similar reasons. These scammers typically aim to steal their marks' identities and cheat them out of their money using various tricks. COVID-19 scams have many variations, but the prevalent ones in Champaign County include contact tracing and stimulus payments.
In the contract tracing COVID-19 scam scheme, fraudsters pretend to be legitimate contact tracers. Contract tracers are health workers whose duty is to identify residents who had contacts with coronavirus patients. They exist to curb the spread of the virus. When they call targeted residents, they will inform them that they had been in contact with persons who tested positive for coronavirus and must self-isolate. Besides inquiries on their targets' non-identifying information, these scammers will attempt to obtain their social security numbers and other information that can be used for identity and financial theft. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask questions that are unrelated to residents' medical histories. Phone number search applications can return information on such callers and prevent residents from falling victim to contact tracing scams.
In another version of COVID-19 scams, fraudsters impersonate employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They often promise to help targeted residents with quick stimulus checks processing at a fee and request to be paid via unofficial payment mediums. There is no such thing as speedy stimulus payment. No one can influence the process, and anyone who promises that is only out to rip you off.
Never feel pressured into providing personal information or send money to unknown persons over the phone. If you receive COVID-19 related calls and doubt the caller's legitimacy, hang up and contact your local health department for verifications. You can uncover the caller's identity using a reverse phone lookup service.
What are Champaign County Social Security Scams?
Never send money or disclose your social security number or other personal information to unknown persons over the phone, especially if you did not start the call. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not solicit money over the phone. It has all citizens' social security numbers (SSNs) on file and will not ask anyone to confirm them in unsolicited calls. In Champaign County, social security scams have many variations. A more common version involves callers impersonating the SSA's employees and informing their targets of ongoing criminal investigations associated with their social security numbers. They will then claim that such SSNs have been suspended and offer to issue new ones at a fee. During the call, the scammers will ask their targets to confirm the "suspended" SSNs for supposed verifications. Such is a ploy to harvest the information for identity and financial theft. They may also boast of having good relationships with the law enforcement officials handling the purported investigations and promise to clear their names, also at a fee. These scammers favor gift cards, wire transfers, and mailed cash.
Confirm any communications claiming to be from the SSA by calling the agency directly on its official phone number at 1 (800) 772-1213. If you get such a call, run the callers' phone number through a service that offers a number lookup to find an answer to the question, "who is this number registered to?". The Office of the Inspector General, SSA, encourages residents to file social security-related scams online.
What are Champaign County Charity Scams?
In charity scams, fraudsters prey on county residents’ goodwill to cheat them out of their money. The Office of the Illinois Attorney General (OIAG) advises residents to practice wise charitable giving. Champaign County residents can research charitable organizations before donating to them to avoid falling victim to charity scams. These scams are particularly prevalent after tragic disasters and during the holidays. You can avoid this scam by looking up suspicious phone numbers on search engines that offer phone number search free services.
The scammers will claim to be with familiar charities and request donations for disaster relief and other creditable causes. They have a preference for payments by gift cards, credit cards, and wire transfers. Sometimes, they may offer to send a runner to pick up cash donations. Never send money to anyone who claims to be with a charity and asking for payments via these odd channels. Legitimate charities are not this desperate and will not solicit donations in this manner. In some instances, the scammers will make up names similar to reputable charity organizations to fool their targets and execute their scam schemes. If you get this type of call, note as many details as possible, hang up, and report the caller to your local law enforcement.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are auto-dialed phone calls that convey pre-recorded messages to mass phone numbers. They can be legal or illegal, depending on the purposes for which they are used. Typically, political campaign organizations use robocalls to reach mass audiences during elections. Similarly, telemarketers pitch sales using robocalls, while the government makes public service announcements using them. Robocalls are illegal when used in scam schemes. Such robocalls can be regarded as spam calls because they are unwanted and intrusive. Scammers use robocalls due to their ability to deliver information to mass phone numbers at once with minimal human input. It is also cheap to initiate them.
To reduce robocall inundation and avoid scams that use spam calls for extortion, Champaign County residents have the following options:
- Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry, a list of phone numbers restricted from receiving telemarketing robocalls. If you receive unsolicited calls 31days after registration, odds are they are spam calls.
- End a robocall once you identify it. Following any of the prompts given during the call sets you up for more robocalls.
- File complaints of robocall abuse with the FTC online or call 1 (888) 382-1222.
- Use the built-in call-blocking features on your phone or call-blocking tools by your service providers to block spam numbers and robocall numbers.
- Use reverse phone number lookup services to identify robocall numbers and then block them from calling you in the future.
How Can You Spot and Report Champaign County Phone Scams?
Phone scammers fool Champaign County residents by impersonating legitimate entities in unsolicited phone calls to make demands and extort them. Generally, reverse phone number lookups can help spot potential phone scammers and help residents avoid them. Champaign County residents can avoid falling prey to phone scams by keeping abreast of how scammers operate in the county. They must also be vigilant to avoid falling victim to phone scams. The following tips can help you spot phone scams, especially in phone calls by unknown persons and phone numbers:
- Scammers fool their targets with supposedly no-risk and high-reward investments.
- Scammers usually demand payment through unofficial payment channels. They favor gift cards, wire transfers, and sometimes, mailed cash.
- Scammers pretend to represent government agencies and threaten you with arrest if you do not comply with their requests. Government agencies will never insist on immediate payment or threaten residents over the phone.
- Scammers are not patient. They are always in a hurry to get you to comply with their demands and push you to make immediate decisions.
- The callers attempt to persuade you into sharing personal information or sending money. They will do anything to prevent you from verifying their claims or provide unsatisfactory responses to your inquiries.
The following public agencies provide reporting platforms for Champaign County phone scams:
Federal Communications Commissions - The FCC protects residents by guiding them on stopping unsolicited calls and avoiding phone scams. Victims of phone spoofing scams or robocalls in Champaign County can file their complaints online with the FCC.
Office of the Illinois Attorney General - The OIAG protects residents from all deceptive practices. Champaign County residents can file reports of phone scams online with the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.
Federal Trade Commission - The FTC protects residents from robocall scams with the National Do Not Call Registry. Registered residents have a higher chance of avoiding robocall scams than those not listed. Robocall abuse and other phone scams can be reported to the FTC by calling 1 (888) 382-1222 or online.
Champaign County Sheriff's Office - The CCSO protects residents by periodically publishing scam alerts on their social media pages. It has the responsibility of investigating phone scams reported to it by email or on (217) 384-1204. Residents can file complaints of phone scam instances with the CCSO in person at 204 East Main Street, Urbana, Illinois 61801.