What are Lake County Area Codes?
The introduction of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) divided telephone service territories into different Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs). Distinct numbering plan area codes, identified by the three digits that start telephone numbers, were assigned to these service territories. Area codes in Illinois are under the management of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce (ICC), as authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Two area codes currently serve Lake County. These are:
Area Code 847
Area code 847 was split from the 708 NPA in 1996. It serves the majority of Lake County and sections of neighboring counties. Lake County communities covered by this area code include Waukegan, Buffalo Grove, Wheeling, North Chicago, Gurnee, Mundelein, Highland Park, and Vernon Hills.
Area Code 224
Area code 224 is an Illinois telephone area code activated in 2002 as an overlay on the 847 NPA. It serves the same communities as 847.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Lake County?
The rapid adoption of wireless and VoIP services has led to a sharp decline in landline usage in Illinois. A CDC survey captured this shift in telecommunication trend among the state’s residents. The survey report confirmed that more than half of Illinois adults, 59.8%, lived in households that have switched to wireless-only telephone services. The switch to wireless is even more pronounced among minors in the state. The CDC data observed that 68.9% of Illinois minors resided in homes that used wireless telephony services exclusively.
Cellular network coverage in Illinois varies from one operator to another. Besides the four national carriers, there are smaller Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MNVOs) who lease network resources from the major operators to resell to subscribers. AT&T has the widest network coverage in Illinois. Their 99.7% coverage exceeds Verizon’s 94.8% coverage. T-Mobile and Sprint claim to cover 86% and 79% of the state respectively.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) routes calls over broadband internet connection. VoIP leverages the internet’s speed and ubiquity to offer many features to subscribers, ensuring improved flexibility and efficiency over other telephony services. Several internet-enabled communication devices are capable of making VoIP calls. Business owners, particularly, find VoIP services most cost-efficient.
What are Lake County Phone Scams?
Phone scams are dishonest schemes devised by criminals to extort money and steal personal information from targets using telephony services. Fraudsters call Lake County residents and send phony text messages to deceive unsuspecting victims into parting with their money and sensitive information. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office tracks the county’s prevalent phone scams and warns residents on how to avoid them. Popular phone scams in Lake County include:
What are Grandparents Scams?
Elderly residents are the principal targets of these scams. The scammers call identified targets and claim to be distant grandchildren in distress. The imposters request immediate financial assistance to meet urgent needs and make their targets promise to keep their assistance a secret. While these fraudsters insist on secrecy to avoid embarrassment and worrying other relatives, the truth is that secrecy only serves to keep their assumed identities intact.
When in doubt about the identity of a caller, use a reverse phone number search to find the individual registered to the strange number calling you. Do not send funds to a relative in distress without confirming the relative’s actual status from a trusted third party. Call (847) 549-5200 to report grandparents scams to the Sheriff’s Office or make an online report.
What are IRS or U.S. Treasury Scams?
In executing these scams, fraudsters pretend to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials and call residents over bogus unpaid taxes. They threaten arrest, deportation, and business closure if payments are not made immediately. These scams are especially rampant during tax season when citizens file tax reports and communicate with the IRS. Victims are asked to make payments via unusual means like retail gift cards, prepaid debit cards, and wire transfers. The IRS warns residents that they do not make initial contact with tax defaulters over the phone. Send an email to report this scam to the IRS or complete the FTC complaints assistance form.
What are Jury Duty Scams?
Con artists pretend to be Sheriff Office employees and call Lake County residents about missed jury duty. The caller then informs them that arrest warrants will be issued to bring them in. They impersonate a “Captain Allen” and request immediate payment to settle the bogus arrest warrant. Payments are made by purchasing prepaid debit cards and reading the information to scammers over the phone. Do not send money or personal information to any government agency that solicits over the phone. End the call and reach out to the Sheriff’s Office through their publicly verified numbers. Report jury arrest warrant scams by filing complaints with the FTC.
What are Warrant Scams?
Scammers use the threats of arrest warrants issued for parking or driving violations to extort money from Lake County residents. These fraudsters claim to be Deputy Sheriffs and threaten immediate arrest if these warrants are not cleared immediately. Dial (847) 549-5200 or submit a report online to file complaints about these scams.
What are Sweetheart Scams?
These scams are executed over prolonged periods. Scammers meet their targets, typically on dating apps, and get close enough to gain their affections. They build romantic relationships with the marks until enough trust is earned before making financial demands. In these fake relationships, targets willingly pass sensitive personal information to the fraudsters, which they use to commit identity thefts. It is advisable to conduct a thorough background check on anyone you meet online, including a reverse phone number search. Call (847) 549-5200 to report these scams to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
What are Bereavement Scams?
Families of recently deceased individuals are the targets of these scams. Criminals review published obituaries to pick targets and contact the deceased's families about unpaid bills and debts owed by the dead individuals. Their families are convinced to clear the obligations of the deceased and send money to the scammers. After losing a loved one, have a trusted family member to review the deceased’s financial status. Dial (847) 549-5200 to report bereavement scams.
A common thread in all these scams is that the fraudsters hide their real identities and assume other personas. The characters they imitate depend on their victims and the kind of fraud they are about to perpetrate. A good reverse phone lookup can help prevent many phone scams by answering the question“who is this number registered to?”
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Telemarketers used auto-dialers to make phone calls that relay pre-recorded messages to many people. Robocalls are legitimate telemarketing tools that have been abused by scammers. Fraudsters use robocalls to extort money and retrieve personal information from unsuspecting residents.
Many laws have been passed to combat the robocall menace. Illinois laws forbid genuine telemarketers from calling residents anytime before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. Mobile phone manufacturers help curb spam calls by including tools to detect suspicious spam numbers and block those calls. Network operators also offer call filtering and call blocking applications to their subscribers. These applications may come as premium services or offered freely.
Consider taking the following steps to curb robocall abuse:
- Ignore calls from unknown numbers. Screening missed calls from the voicemail helps to block suspected spam callers permanently. Only contact those that left valid messages.
- Set up a password for your voicemail. Voicemails with passwords are harder to hack, even by spoofed numbers.
- End a robocall that was inadvertently answered. Ignore the voice prompt asking you to push a button. Doing as prompted only attracts more robocalls.
- Make inquiries from your network provider on the best call filtering and blocking tool available to you.
- Download a suitable third-party call blocking app if an appropriate option is unavailable from your telephone carrier.
- Place your number on the National Do Not Call Registry or call 1 (888) 382-1222 from the number you want on the list.
- Report robocall abuse to the FTC if registering on the Do Not Call List does not stop the unwanted robocalls.
How to Spot and Report Lake County Phone Scams?
Lake County residents can avoid falling victims to phone scams by looking out for the following signs and behaviors from unknown callers:
- Calls from utility companies seeking immediate payment of unpaid bills and threatening to cut off their services.
- Calls from law enforcement officers seeking payment to end ongoing investigations or prevent arrests. Legitimate officers of the law do not seek payments to clear active warrants.
- Notifications of prizes you won but can only receive after paying certain fees for taxes and processing.
- Callers who are requesting payments through irregular platforms such as prepaid cards and wire transfers. Criminals prefer these platforms because any funds sent are hard to trace once received.
- Distress calls from people claiming to be distant grandchildren. Verify the status of a supposed relative before agreeing to any request.
- Calls allegedly from IRS officials threaten you with arrest, deportation, and other punitive actions over unpaid taxes.
Several government agencies educate citizens about new phone scams devised by criminals. These agencies issue scam alerts and provide platforms for residents to report scam incidents. Lake County residents get regular scam updates from these agencies:
Local Law Enforcement
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office put together a list of the county’s prevalent phone scams and issued an alert to residents. Lake County residents can reach the Sheriff’s Office by dialing (847) 549-5200 or submitting a crime report online.
State departments like the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) release regular scam alerts to educate Lake County residents.
The Office of the Attorney General in Illinois has a database for Lake County residents to verify any charity’s status before making donations. The Attorney General’s Office also provides an online consumer complaint form to receive reports on scams.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the regulator of the telecommunications industry. They provide resources on how to identify spoofing and activate call blocking to help residents avoid scams. The FCC has mandated network operators to upgrade caller authentication systems to eradicate spoofing at no cost to subscribers. Victims of phone scams have an online page to report them to the FCC.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) exists to promote fair trade and protect the interest of consumers. They provide resources that help Lake County residents identify common phone scams and avoid robocalls. The FTC manages the National Do Not Call Registry that ensures legitimate telemarketers do not robocall residents. The FTC’s complaints assistance page is available for scam victims to lodge complaints.