What are St. Clair County Area Codes?
There is only one area code serving St. Clair County. This is area code 618. Area codes are three-digit designations for NPAs (numbering plan areas). Both area codes and NPAs were first created when the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) was implemented in 1947. The NANP unified the different phone exchange systems used across participating countries in North America. By adopting a single system, call routing via the many telephone networks in North America got easier.
In a 10-digit phone number issued in North America, the area code is the first three digits. It indicates a geographical area assigned to an NPA. Phone users living within the borders of the NPA have phone numbers starting with the same three digits.
Area Code 618
One of the original area codes created in North America in 1947, area code 618 covers the southern part of Illinois. It has never been overlaid or split and is expected to be exhausted by 2024. Communities in St. Clair County served by area code 618 include the cities of Belleville, Columbia, and O’Fallon; the townships of Fayetteville, O’Fallon, and St. Clair; and villages of Brooklyn, Fairmont City, and New Athens.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in St. Clair County?
There are more wireless phone users in St. Clair County than there are landline phone subscribers. This trend also applies for the rest of Illinois. The National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed this conclusion in its 2018 wireless substitution survey. The results of this survey showed that about 60% of adults in Illinois only used wireless phone services while a tiny 3% of this population still relied on landline phone services alone. Among minors in the state, only 0.5% of the demographic only used landline phones. In contrast, 69% of residents under the age of 18 solely used wireless phones for telecommunication.
All four major national carriers provide phone services in St. Clair County and the rest of Illinois. AT&T leads the pack in terms of network coverage. This carrier provides phone service in 99.4% of Illinois. Verizon’s network coverage only spans 98.8% of the state while T-Mobile and Sprint cover 86.1% and 79.5% of Illinois respectively. In addition to these four carriers, residents of St. Clair County can also sign up for phone services provided by MVNOs. MVNOs or Mobile Virtual Network Operators are smaller carriers that only provide phone services in select regions of the country. They buy network services in bulk from major carriers and repackage these in bundles meant to attract local users at lower rates.
Major carriers and MVNOs are not the only phone service providers in Illinois. The state also allows VoIP operators to offer phone services. VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is a communication technology that allows the transmission of voice signals as data packets over the internet. VoIP phone services require broadband internet access. For St. Clair County residents with broadband internet at home or work, VoIP phone services can significantly reduce their phone bills especially for long-distance calls and telecommuting.
What are St. Clair County Phone Scams?
These are fraudulent activities targeting residents of St. Clair County and conducted by scam artists using phone services. The goal of phone scammers is to defraud their targets. This may mean stealing their money or other valuables such as confidential information. The increasing number of phone scams reported in St. Clair County and Illinois is partly due to the ease of initiating and running these scams over the phone. Scammers employ phone tools and services such as spam calls, robocalls, and caller ID spoofing to find new targets and trick them into parting with their money or confidential records.
Not all phone tools and services enable phone scams. Some are used by law enforcement and consumer protection agencies to search for and identify fraudsters. Consumers can also use these tools to avoid phone scams. Helpful phone technologies for combating phone scams include call blocking and reverse phone number search.
In addition to learning about how to block and avoid scammers, residents of St. Clair County should also know about commonly reported phone scams in the county and state. These include free prize scams, travel scams, investment scams, health product scams, and recovery scams.
What are St. Clair County Free Prize Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters call their victims to congratulate them that they have been selected to get free products or services. To claim their “free” prizes, the dishonest businesses running these scams, ask the winners to attend seminars, buy something, or pay for taxes and shipping fees for their winnings. Regardless of the tactic used, a free prize scam ends with the victim paying some amount or providing their credit card details in order to claim their prize.
St. Clair County residents should be wary of strangers calling to offer them free stuff. If you have to pay for a free prize, then it is no longer free. If contacted in this way, search the unknown number used by the caller using a free reverse phone lookup service. The result may show that the number used is not registered to the organization the caller claims to represent. It may also reveal that the unknown number has been previously flagged for phone scams.
What are St. Clair County Travel Scams?
Dishonest travel agents run these scams by offering free vacations and low-cost travel packages. They misrepresent their terms of these offers to their victims when selling them over the phone. Their free/low-cost offers usually have hidden costs. They may also quote the down payment for their travel packages and conveniently forget to tell those buying them that they will have to pay more.
Some travel scammers fail to book flight and hotel accommodation for their victims and simply stop communicating after getting paid. Others let residents taking advantage of free/low-cost travel packages learn about those additional costs en route to their destinations or when they get there. They may book these vacationers in seedy hotels and make no provisions for meals and sightseeing tours promised in their brochures.
Do not let your excitement prevent you from looking closely at low-cost travel offers. Study the fine print and ask questions. Use a phone number lookup search to see if the unknown caller is truly a representative of the travel agency offering the travel package.
What are St. Clair County Investment Scams?
Investment scams are get-rich-quick schemes that fraudsters peddle to those eager to see their life savings make good returns. When they call, these scammers claim their business or investment offers have low risks and promise huge returns. They refer to bogus testimonials of past investors as evidence that they are legitimate and deliver the profits they claim. Oftentimes, these dubious investment offers turn out to be pyramid schemes. Unsuspecting investors soon realize that the so-called investments are worth nothing or far less than was promised.
The key to avoiding investment scams is to be wary of strangers aggressively offering attractive business and investment opportunities. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Before making a financial commitment, submit the phone number used by this caller to a reverse phone lookup service. You may find that it is not linked to the investment house or franchise claimed by the caller. The result may also show that the number has been previously flagged for investment scams.
What are St. Clair County Health Product Scams?
The scams involve fraudsters exploiting the huge market for health supplements to defraud their victims. If you receive a cold call from a stranger claiming you can make huge profits from selling vitamins or some other health supplements, they are most likely trying to scam you. In most cases, health product scammers do send these products to their victims. However, the victims soon realize they cannot sell the products themselves and that they are worth a lot less than they paid for it.
To avoid filling your home with boxes of worthless supplements, use a phone number search to investigate an unknown number calling to sell these health products. Make sure to do some market research about the viability of the products you are promised and if you can sell them in Illinois.
What are St. Clair County Recovery Scams?
A recovery scam is a particularly heinous fraud as its victims have previously fallen for another scam. Fraudsters running recovery scams call scam victims and promise to help them recover what they lost. They charge these victims some fees to go after their scammers and return the money lost. However, recovery scammers are often the same fraudsters responsible for the first scam or their associates.
Do not believe anyone claiming to be capable of returning what you lost to a scammer. Even law enforcement agencies cannot make such guarantees. Trusting a stranger to help you recover money lost to a scammer is an ill-advised response to getting scammed. A quick phone number search may help you avoid a recovery scammer by showing that they are not affiliated to any reputable company and are most likely flagged for previous scams.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are phone calls placed by auto-dialers to deliver pre-recorded messages. They are usually unsolicited and unwanted calls. Political campaigns and telemarketers use robocalls to reach their target audiences as these help them save time and money. These benefits also make robocalls attractive to scammers hoping to find new targets they can defraud.
Spam calls are also unwanted phone calls placed in bulk. They are often used by dishonest telemarketers aggressively trying to get their messages out. The number of illegal robocalls and spam calls received by Americans keep increasing every year. Law enforcement agencies and consumer protection groups offer the following tips for reducing the number of robocalls and spam calls received:
- Do not rely on your phone’s caller ID to correctly identify callers. Scammers using caller ID spoofing make their calls appear to be coming from trusted sources just to get their targets to pick up the phone
- Hang up on a call as soon as you realize it is a robocall or spam call
- Do not follow instructions provided during a robocall or spam call asking you to press certain keys to remove your number from their call list. This only serves to confirm that your number is active and will open the floodgates to more robocalls and spam calls
- Block calls from unknown numbers or select numbers from your phone. Smartphones have call blocking features and carriers also offer call blocking for free or small fees. There are also call blocking apps that rely on their users to flag numbers used for robocalls and spam calls
- Identify individuals registered to unknown numbers that keep calling you with reverse phone lookup searches.
How to Spot and Report St. Clair County Phone Scams
Avoiding phone scams requires knowing about them. St. Clair County residents should learn about new tactics used by scammers and know the most common scams in their communities. The Illinois Attorney General's Office publishes a helpful summary of phone scams in the state on its website. By keeping themselves abreast of phone scam trends in the state and county and using tools like reverse phone lookup, residents can easily avoid phone scammers. They should be on the lookout for these red flags to help spot scam attempts when taking calls from strangers:
- Request for payment by cash, cryptocurrency, prepaid debit card, gift card, or mobile payment apps such as Venmo - public and private organizations do not accept payments for goods, services, fines etc. via these channels
- Use of aggressive sales tactics - scammers aim to get their targets to act immediately by claiming their offers are only available for a limited time or severely undercutting prices quoted by legitimate businesses
- Use of threat - scammers impersonating law enforcement, IRS agents, and other public officials threaten their victims with arrest, jail, deportation, and revocation of driver’s license or business license
- Poor understanding of US public agencies - some scammers are foreigners and live outside the US. They often show their hand by failing to grasp how American institutions work
It is important to report a phone scam whether it is successful or not. Reporting phone frauds to the authorities help them find and prosecute scammers. Scam reports also increase public awareness of how scammers operate and how they have evolved their tricks. St. Clair County residents can report phone scams to the following authorities:
- The Consumer Protection Division of the Illinois Attorney General's Office - this Division is the state’s watchdog protecting residents from frauds and unfair practices committed by business interests operating in the state. Report a phone scam involving a breach of consumer trust to the Illinois Consumer Protection Divisions using its Consumer Complaint Form
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - this is the federal agency responsible for safeguarding consumers against unfair and deceptive business practices. It can prosecute fraudsters and dishonest organizations responsible for investment, tax, free prize, health product and travel scams. Submit such fraud complaints to the FTC online
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - this is the federal regulating agency for all communication services and providers in the country. Phone scams represent the majority of complaints received by the FCC. This agency can investigate and prosecute scammers involving the use of illegal robocalls, spam calls, caller ID spoofing, and voice phishing. Report such scams to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center
- St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department and police departments in the county - these local law enforcement agencies can also take reports of phone scams. Report a phone scam to the Sheriff’s Department by calling (618) 277-3505