What are Madison County Area Codes?
There are three area codes serving residents of Madison County. These are 618, 217, and 447. Area codes were first introduced in the United States in 1947 with the creation of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). The NANP divided the country into NPAs (numbering plan areas) and assigned 86 area codes to these. An area code is a three-digit numeric designation for an NPA. The NANP streamlined call routing across North American telephone networks and exchanges by using area codes to assign phone numbers. In a typical 10-digit North American phone number, the area code is the first three digits.
Area Code 618
Area code 618 is one of the original 86 area codes assigned in North America at the institution of the NANP. As at 2021, it has never been split or overlaid. Projections show that this area code will keep pace with the growth of the NPA it covers and will not be exhausted until 2024. Most of Madison County is served by area code 618. Some of the communities under this area code are Edwardsville, Alton, Troy, Venice, and Granite City.
Area Code 217
Also one of the original 86 area codes created in 1947 when the NANP came into effect, area code 217 used to cover most of the central part of Illinois. However, its reach has since been reduced following the creation of area codes 618 and 308. Area code 217 only covers a very portion of Madison County. Some residents of New Douglas village in Madison County have phone numbers with area code 217 while others live within the NPA designated by area code 618.
Area Code 447
Created in an overlay plan for area code 217 in 2021, area code 447 expanded the number of phone numbers and exchanges available to serve residents living in communities covered by area code 447. Therefore, residents of New Douglas in Madison County are also served by this overlay code.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans for Madison County?
Like the rest of Illinois, most of the residents of Madison County have shifted away from landline phones to wireless phone services. In a 2018 survey conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics studying Americans’ substitution of landlines for wireless phones, the results showed that 59.8% of adults in Illinois solely used wireless phones for telecommunication. In contrast, only 3% of them still relied only on landline phones. The difference between wireless phone and landline phone users was bigger among minors in Illinois. In this demographic, 68.9% only used wireless phone services while a paltry 0.5% still relied on landline phones.
Residents of Madison County and Illinois enjoy phone services from the four major carriers, MVNOs, and VoIP service providers. Among the four national carriers, AT&T has the widest network coverage in Illinois. Its network is available in 99.74% of the state. Verizon comes second with 98.84% coverage while T-Mobile sits in the third position with 86.11% coverage. Sprint brings up the rear with 79.45% coverage of Illinois.
MVNOs or Mobile Virtual Network Operators are smaller, regional carriers that purchase network services in bulk from the major carriers. They resell these to end users and pass on some of the savings. MVNOs offer phone service bundles that are attractive to those living in the areas they serve.
VoIP or Voice of Internet Protocol is a technology that transmits voice signals over the internet as data packets. It can be used to make voice and video calls. VoIP phone service relies on broadband internet access. Madison County residents with broadband internet service at home and work can easily sign up for VoIP phone service. Compared to landline and cell phone services, VoIP is more flexible and more affordable. Users can make VoIP calls from their phones as well as computers and tablets.
What are Madison County Phone Scams?
These are telephone frauds committed in Madison County or targeting residents of the county. Telephone frauds are scams perpetrated using phone tools and services. Phone technologies commonly used by scammers include robocalls, spam calls, and caller ID spoofing. These tools and services make it easier for fraudsters to target more phone users and impersonate people and organizations they trust. The aim of phone scammers is to defraud their targets. They may also aim to steal other valuables besides money, including personal and confidential information.
Just as some phone tools and services make phone scams easier, others are useful for stopping or avoiding them. Such helpful anti-scam phone technologies include reverse phone lookup and call blocking. In addition to these tools, Madison County residents should learn about commonly reported phone scams in the county and state. These are free prize scams, travel scams, charity scams, recovery scams, and tech support scams.
What are Madison County Free Prize Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters call unsuspecting residents of Madison County to congratulate them on winning free prizes. They may also claim these targets won some lotteries or sweepstakes. To claim their winnings, the scammers request their victims to send some money to cover taxes as well as fees for processing or shipping. It is important to not let your excitement prompt you to drop your guard when speaking with strangers promising windfalls or free items. Ask probing questions about the organizers of the lottery, sweepstake, or giveaway and corroborate these details online. Submit the phone numbers used by the strangers to free reverse phone lookup searches to determine their true identities. You should also know that legitimate lottery and sweepstake organizations as well as businesses offering free gifts never require winners to pay before claiming their prizes.
What are Madison County Travel Scams?
These are cons run by disreputable travel agencies. They call to offer free or low-cost vacations and refuse to tell their victims about hidden costs. Victims only learn they need to pay additional fees on their way to their travel destinations or when they arrive. Fraudulent travel agencies running these scams provide poor service to vacationers. They book them on lousy flights and into lousy hotels to save cost.
Before sending payments to telemarketers offering free vacations or low-cost travel packages, make sure to use phone number search to determine that they indeed represent the travel agencies they reference. Question all the details of affordable travel packages they are offering and search online to see if these agencies have ever been linked with scams or providing poor service.
What are Madison County Charity Scams?
Fraudsters run charity scams to take advantage of disasters and exploit residents’ giving spirit during the holidays. Just when legitimate charities call to solicit donations, scammers also call unsuspecting residents and claim to represent legitimate charities or name fake charities that sound similar to real ones. Do not donate money during a call from a stranger. Run the number used through a reverse phone lookup search to confirm that it belongs to the claimed charity.
When contacted by a stranger asking for charity donations, ask if they are a professional fundraiser and how much of the money donated gets to the charity. Request that they send you details of such donations in writing. Confirm that a charity seeking donation is registered by calling the Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trusts Bureau at (312) 814-2595 (TTY: (800) 964-3013). It is also possible to confirm the registration status of a charity online by using reputable services like GuideStar.
What are Madison County Recovery Scams?
Recovery scammers are second-wave fraudsters. They call victims of scams and promise to help them recover their money from scammers. However, they demand upfront payment for their services. In most cases, strangers calling to help scam victims with recovering their money are scammers themselves and often associates of the original scammers. A quick phone number search may help you confirm that a stranger promising to help you recover money is calling from the same location as the scammer that defrauded you. Do not believe anyone guaranteeing that they can recover what you lost to a phone scam. Even law enforcement cannot provide such guarantees.
What are Madison County Tech Support Scams?
Tech support scams take different forms but the most recent one in Illinois is an impersonation con that involves a stranger calling and claiming to be an Apple tech support. This scammer warns the target that their iPhone, iPad, or iCloud account may be compromised and then asks for their password and username to confirm their identity and secure their account. Unsuspecting residents that provide such confidential details to unknown callers quickly become victims of identity fraud. These scammers call with numbers that look legitimate and use caller ID spoofing to make their victims’ phone show that the calls are coming from Apple Customer Service.
Other forms of tech support scams also involve impersonating customer support from major tech companies. Scammers may ask for remote access or send malicious links to their victims while claiming to provide help to remove viruses or make their computers run faster. Usually, it is possible to discover these scammers simply by running their numbers through phone number lookup services. However, sophisticated scams involving caller ID spoofing requires vigilance from targets to foil.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls and spam calls are unwanted bulk calls placed to a lot of numbers. Robocalls are placed by auto-dialers and deliver pre-recorded messages usually in machine voice. Spam calls may be placed by humans or machines and may deliver messages recorded by a human or a voice generator.
Robocalls were first introduced to help political campaigns and telemarketers reach large target audiences quickly and easily. Organizations that deliver public service announcements also use them to send out urgent messages and updates to large groups of customers or residents. The ease and low cost of using robocalls have also made them attractive to scammers. Robocalls and spam calls help phone fraudsters cast wider nets and find more victims for their cons.
Like most Americans, residents of Madison County receive increasingly large numbers of these unwanted calls every year. However, it is possible to stop or reduce the number of robocalls and spam calls reaching your phone with these tips:
- Do not trust your phone’s caller ID to correctly identify callers. Scammers use caller ID spoofing to make their calls appear to be coming from trusted sources
- Hang up a phone call as soon as you realize it is a robocall or spam call
- Do not follow instructions given during such unwanted calls about removing your number from their call lists. Following such prompts only lead to more calls as dishonest telemarketers and scammers determine that your number is active
- Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. Legitimate telemarketers know to stop contact numbers added to this registry. Robocalls and spam calls received 31 days after joining this registry are likely from scammers
- Use reverse phone lookup services to investigate unknown callers. These services can identify strange callers by their phone numbers and often provide additional information that can help you decide whether the stranger call is a scammer or not
- Block calls from select numbers or numbers not in your contact list. Smartphones have call blocking features built in. Carriers provide call blocking as add-on features. Also, there are third-party call blocking apps that rely on crowdsourced black lists to filter calls from spammers and scammers flagged by their community of users
How to Spot and Report Madison County Phone Scams?
The first step to spotting phone scams is learning about them. The Office of the Attorney General of Illinois provides helpful resources detailing prevalent scams in the state as well as how victims can get help. Such resources are also available from the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. Reverse phone lookup services are also useful for spotting phone scams and revealing scammers. Along with these tools and resources, Madison County residents should also watch out for the following phone scam red flags:
- Use of threat - scammers try to scare their victims into complying with their demands by threatening to arrest, jail, or deport them. They can also threaten to revoke driver’s or business license
- Ask for payment in cash or via unofficial channels - while claiming to be representatives of law enforcement, courts, government agencies, financial houses, and well-known organizations, fraudsters want to receive payment through informal channels. Such payments are hard to trace and reverse
- Asking for information they should already have - scammers impersonating employees of banks, credit card companies, and the IRS ask for social security number, checking account number, and credit card PINs. These are information these organizations already have on file
- Employing aggressive sales tactics - scammers get aggressive while sealing their bogus offers as they try to get their targets to act immediately before seeing how ridiculous their claims are. For example, they claim their one-in-a-lifetime business and investment offers are only available for a limited time
Residents of Madison County should report all phone scams whether these attempts are successful or not. Reports help law enforcement and consumer protection groups identify, find, and prosecute fraudsters. These reports also help the public learn about emerging phone scam trends and tactics. Madison County residents can report all phone scams to the following agencies:
- Consumer Protection Division of the Illinois Attorney General's Office - this is the state agency that protects residents from frauds and unfair business practices. Report a phone scam involving these by completing and submitting a Consumer Complaint Form
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - the FTC protects all consumers in the US from unfair and deceptive business practices including frauds like investment scams, tax scams, and travel scams. Madison County residents can submit their fraud complaints to the FTC online
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - the FCC oversees and regulates all communication in the country. Its reach includes the tools and services used by phone companies and their subscribers. Scams involving illegal robocalls, spam calls, caller ID spoofing, and voice phishing can be reported to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center
- Madison County Sheriff’s Office - this is the chief local law enforcement in the county. It receives reports of all crimes committed in the county including phone scams. Report phone frauds to the Sheriff’s Office by calling (618) 692-4433