What are Winnebago County Area Codes?
Area codes are the three-digit numbers introduced as part of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). Initially designed in 1947, area codes identify specific numbering plan areas within a state. With area codes, phone users can recognize the origin and destination of phone calls. The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) is the statewide agency tasked with assigning new area codes in different Illinois areas.
Two area codes are currently active in Winnebago County. These include:
Area code 815
Area code 815 is an Illinois telephone area code created in 1947. It was one of the four original area codes designed to cover Illinois. Rockford City, Machesney Park, and Cherry Valley are part of the areas the area code 815 covers.
Area code 779
Area code 779 is an Illinois overlay area code created from area code 815 in 2007. Overlays are created to avoid the exhaustion of phone numbers. The overlay area code 779 serves Winnebago County communities like South Beloit and Loves Park.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Winnebago County?
In Winnebago County, phone users enjoy the service of the four major phone networks in the U.S. (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile). Nevertheless, residents may use alternative phone carriers known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). These alternative network operators rely on the main networks. After purchasing network infrastructure from significant telecom operators at wholesale rates, they offer their services at lower costs. Both MVNOs and major service providers deliver excellent services. However, two factors that may affect the quality of these service providers are bad weather conditions and the presence of tall landscapes.
Generally, all the major service providers in Winnebago County deliver above-average coverage. Verizon has the best network coverage in Winnebago County with 90% coverage. T-Mobile and AT&T follow behind with 80% and 76% coverage, respectively. Sprint provides the least network coverage with 74%.
Cell phone users in Winnebago County and other parts of Illinois are more than landline users. This is revealed in the 2018 survey on wireless substitution published by the National Center of Health Statistics. The report shows that 54.4% of Illinois adults (persons above the age of 18) use only cell phones, while 3.9% use landlines only. The disparity is much more significant for persons under the age of 18. The report revealed that 62.9% of minors use wireless telephones only, while 1.8% use landlines only.
In Illinois, residents and organizations are gradually adopting Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to make calls. This is because VoIP services are cheaper and flexible. VoIP uses broadband internet service, instead of conventional telephone lines. With this feature, VoIP users can make direct inbound dialing, videoconferencing, and other features.
What are Winnebago County Phone Scams?
Phone scams in Winnebago County are initiated by fraudulent persons that aim to defraud county residents. To carry out this scam, the fraudsters make false claims through phone calls or texts to obtain financial and private information. State residents can avoid falling victim to phone scams by understanding how the scammers operate. Most fraudsters use modern technology to mislead individuals. It is important to use innovative tools like area code lookup and reverse phone lookup services. These tools help individuals differentiate between legitimate calls and scam calls.
Generally, county residents are expected to contact only approved governmental agencies to verify strangers' claims over the phone. Winnebago's primary law enforcement agencies are Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office and Winnebago County Sheriff Department. Victims of scam calls can file reports with the law enforcement agencies or the Illinois Consumer Protection Division. Conducting personal research on individuals and businesses can also help people avoid being scammed. The Better Business Bureau is available to persons seeking more information on companies. On the other hand, verifying the true identity of a call can be done using reverse phone number look up service.
Examples of phone scams in Winnebago County include:
What are Winnebago County IRS Imposter Scams?
IRS imposter scams are widespread in Winnebago County. Con artists impersonating IRS (Internal Revenue Service) agents inform their targets of unpaid taxes. They threaten to arrest, deport, sue, or revoke licenses if individuals refuse to pay taxes immediately. Some scammers try to authenticate their claims by calling out the last digits of their targets’ social security numbers. Afterward, they request tax payment via gift cards or cryptocurrency.
In response to these fraudulent activities, the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have published several warnings to residents. According to the IRS, real IRS agents:
- Do not contact residents over the phone without prior notice.
- Do not ask for payments through bitcoins, wire transfers, and gift cards
- Do not threaten to arrest individuals
- Do not ask for social security numbers and credit card details
If any of these occur over the phone, county residents are advised to hang up the call and contact the IRS by calling (800) 829-1040. Victims may also report IRS imposter scams to the FTC.
What are Winnebago County Fake Check Scams?
Fake check scams are carried out by dubious persons who give out counterfeit checks to innocent citizens. In these scams, individuals are given excess money through checks that look like cashier's checks, money orders, or electronic checks. Afterward, the con artists who sent the checks will eventually ask the recipients to return the excess money via wire transfers or gift cards.
These scams are common with dubious online shoppers and fake lottery companies. Fake scams may not be easily detected as most banks often clear the checks before discovering they are invalid. You can avoid counterfeit check scams by being cautious of checks sent by strangers and not accepting checks that are more than the required amount. In addition, do not accept prizes, gifts, or offers that need you to make upfront payments. Victims of fake cheque scams can file reports with the FTC.
What are Winnebago County Job Scams?
Job scams in Winnebago County are targeted at individuals looking for remote jobs. The fraudsters post job ads online like other legitimate businesses. In these scams, job seekers are promised easy-to-get jobs with huge payoffs. They are also told to make small payments to get the jobs. Some scammers may request personal or financial details of interested job seekers to help them process their employment.
Job scams often start as emails sent by the supposed 'employers.' Most of these emails contain only phone numbers but not the companies' contact addresses. The emails are often manipulated slightly to make them appear to be from legitimate companies. Job seekers can thwart these deceptive tactics if they conduct proper research using the Better Business Bureau platform. Individuals can also use suspicious phone number lookup services to check if the numbers provided on emails are valid. Generally, job seekers are advised to refrain from paying 'employers' or their 'representatives' before securing employment.
What are Winnebago County Charity Scams?
Charity scams are rampant during disasters and pandemics like the COVID-19. Scammers take advantage of these tragedies to exploit generous individuals, soliciting donations for residents that are in need. Charity scams may be in the form of crowdfunding, holiday givings, or disaster relief packages. Some charity scammers mimic real charity organizations by creating similar websites or claiming to be affiliated with the government. Donors are often pressured to make payments immediately and are promised big rewards if they donate.
According to the FTC, donors should:
- Never pay charity organizations through the phone.
- Not succumb to pressure, but take time to personally research the charity organizations.
- Ensure that payments are made to only registered charities. Note that charities in Illinois are required by law to register with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
- Never pay charities through gift cards, wire transfers, and bitcoins
- Monitor their credit card transactions to avoid recurring donations.
County residents are advised to call the Charitable Trusts Bureau on (312) 814-2595 to confirm if charities are registered. Victims of charity scams can file complaints with the Illinois Attorney General.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are pre-recorded messages sent using auto-dialers. Politicians, non-profit organizations, and telemarketers mostly use robocalls to disseminate information to many people at the same time. On the other hand, spam calls are unsolicited phone calls containing irrelevant information. Most scammers use robocalls because they help them to remain anonymous. Being anonymous, they are able to deceive unsuspecting residents by impersonating reputable companies. These imposters defraud residents by making dubious claims to request financial or personal information.
Reputable organizations also use robocalls, making it difficult for individuals to identify illegal robocalls sent by fraudsters. However, individuals can use free reverse phone number searches to find more information about robocalls.
Below are some steps to take if you receive a spam call or robocall:
- End the call at once without following any prompts.
- Never share sensitive information like the Social Security number (SSN), bank details, or passwords, over the phone.
- Use a phone number search tool to find out who called.
- Once you discover the caller’s identity, block the number to avoid further calls
- Call and report the scam call to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-(888)-382-1222.
- Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry (DNCR) to avoid receiving spam calls and robocalls.
Note that your number will be excluded from taking robocalls after 31 days of registration on the DNCR. After that, any robocall you get is almost certainly a scam. Notify the FTC if such calls persist after 31 days
How to Spot and Report Winnebago County Phone Scams?
Scammers are constantly looking for different avenues to defraud unsuspecting residents. According to the 2019 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, phone scams have become prevalent as 69% of scams reported to the FTC involved phone calls. Fraudsters have been able to expand their deceptive tactics using the recent technological advancement to their advantage. However, individuals can avoid being victims of these tactics by arming themselves with proper education and understanding of how scammers operate.
You can use a reverse phone search to help reveal who a number is registered to and the caller's true identity. Also, be mindful of some common warning signs that indicate that you may be talking to scam callers. Below are some of the signs of a potential scam:
- They use aggressive and persuasive methods like threats of arrest or revocation of license.
- They compel their victims into giving up their bank and personal details.
- They request unconventional online payments such as bitcoins and gift cards.
- They request upfront payments.
- They make promises of huge payments or prizes.
Terminate any call if you notice any of the red flags above and use a reverse cell phone lookup application to find out who the caller is. Contact public agencies in Winnebago County and Illinois that are dedicated to helping victims of telephone scams. These agencies are listed below:
Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office: The State’s Attorney‘s Office in Winnebago County is tasked with prosecuting violators and interviewing victims of crimes. Phone scam victims may contact the Attorney’s Office using the details below:
400 W State Street
Rockford, IL 61101
Phone: (815) 319-4700
Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO): As the county's major law enforcement agency, scam victims can report any fraudulent activities to:
Winnebago County Justice Center
650 W. State Street
Rockford, IL 61102-220
Phone: (815) 319-6000
Illinois Attorney General: The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division is tasked with protecting county residents from consumer fraud. Victims of fraud can download and complete the consumer complaints form, which should be sent to:
Consumer Fraud Bureau
500 South Second Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (217) 782-1090
Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC is a federal agency responsible for protecting U.S. citizens from all kinds of scams. The possibility of falling victim to phone scams can be reduced by registering your phone number(s) on the National Do Not Call Registry. Individuals can also report fraudulent activities to the FTC to share more information about scams with others.