The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) assigned distinct Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs) in different regions. Area codes are the blocks of three digits at the beginning of phone numbers that identify regions specified in the NANP. Cuyahoga County has two area codes currently serving it. In Ohio, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) manages the state’s area codes.
Area code 216 was part of the original 86 area codes introduced in 1947. It currently covers the whole of Cuyahoga County. Major cities served by this area code include Cleveland, Lakewood, Euclid, Cleveland Heights, Garfield Heights, Shaker Heights, Maple Heights, South Euclid, and East Cleveland. Other cities also served by this area code include Brook Park, Warrensville Heights, University Heights, Beachwood, Seven Hills, Brooklyn, and Richmond Heights.
Area code 440 is an Ohio telephone area code introduced in 1997. It serves parts of Cuyahoga County and several neighboring counties. Major cities under this area code’s jurisdiction include Parma, Strongsville, Westlake, North Olmsted, North Royalton, Solon, Parma Heights, and Rocky River.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Cuyahoga County?
Residents of Ohio have been shifting away from landlines to wireless and VoIP phone services. The Ohio Telecom Association (OTA) reports that Ohio’s local telephone companies have lost about 80% of their landline subscribers since 2000. Wireless telephony service has significantly benefited from this decline with 70% of Ohio homes being exclusive wireless users.
A recent NHIS survey by the CDC highlighted that the substitution of landlines for wireless is more common among the younger population. Statistics show that 71.8% of children (aged below 18) in Ohio live in homes that use wireless exclusively. The trend is also evident among adults, with about 58.5% of Ohio adults using wireless phones exclusively.
VoIP subscriptions in Ohio increased alongside wireless phone subscriptions as more residents looked for an alternative to traditional landlines. VoIP services route calls through the internet offer certain unique benefits including lower cost and improved flexibility compared to the traditional alternatives. n.
AT&T has the most extensive wireless coverage in Ohio, which extends over most of the state, providing 99.9% coverage. Verizon and T-Mobile are not far behind with 96.7% and 96.4% coverage respectively. Sprint is also present in Ohio and has coverage of 82%.
What are Cuyahoga County Phone Scams?
These are crimes committed against residents of the county using telephony services. The proliferation of mobile phones has opened new channels for criminals to reach their targets. The Cuyahoga County’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) identified the county’s ten most common scams last year. Some phone scams included in the list are:
What are Social Security or Medicare Scams?
Scammers call victims and pose as health department officials conducting health checks. They start by inquiring after the well-being of their victims but as the health check progresses, they seek personal information like Social Security Numbers, Medicare numbers, and bank information. The DCA warns residents that when self-proclaimed health officials start asking for personal data out of the blue, these are not health checks. They are scam callers.
What are Computer Technician Scams?
Scammers impersonate major tech companies’ support staff to gain access to targets’ devices in these scams. Tech companies like Microsoft are the popular choice of perpetrators of these scams. Scammers contact targets and try to gain remote access to targets’ personal computers under the guise of fixing non-existent issues. If remote access is granted, malware is uploaded to steal information on the victim’s computer. In addition to the information theft, victims have to pay for the bogus repairs. Authorities have cautioned residents to thoroughly verify tech support staff identities before granting them access to their computers.
What are Prize Scams?
Prize scams are executed by making victims believe they have won lotteries or prizes. The scammers then deceive victims into paying upfront to redeem the phony prizes. The victims pay this money and get no rewards in return. It has been significantly emphasized that residents be wary of prize offers they have to pay to redeem as this is a common phone scam technique. Victims of these scams can submit reports to the Department of Consumer Affairs.
What are Grandparent or Relative Scams?
These scams target elderly residents. Scammers pose as grandchildren or relatives and make distress calls to victims. Scammers pretend to be in emergencies to make victims send money immediately to help out their relatives. Residents who receive these types of distress calls should always seek verifications for themselves before sending any money.
What are IRS Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters pose as tax officials and make phone calls to residents over real or fictitious unpaid taxes. The targets are threatened with immediate arrest or exorbitant charges if the tax debts are not cleared immediately. The IRS advises residents that it will not place threatening calls to residents over unpaid taxes. The DCA warns residents to ignore calls or emails asking them to make same-day payments, primarily through unconventional methods, to avoid arrest and other punitive actions.
Reverse phone lookups can answer the “who is this number registered to?” question and reveal scammers’ information to safeguard residents. For scams that involve phone spoofing, which is harder to detect, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has laid down some guidelines to follow.
Various government agencies provide means for victims to report attempted and successful phone scams. The Department of Consumer Affairs in Cuyahoga County has an online form for reporting scam incidents. The FCC complaints page and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) portal are also available for residents to file reports.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls deliver pre-recorded messages to the call recipients. They are effective tools used by business corporations, political parties, and charities to reach large audiences. In recent times, they have been appropriated by scammers to commit crimes. Robocall scams rank among the top 10 most common scams perpetrated in Cuyahoga County.
Eradicating or reducing robocalls and spam calls is a major concern for everyone. On their part, phone manufacturers have features on mobile phones that allow call filtering and call blocking. Once these functions are activated, suspected spam calls are restricted. Network providers also offer call filtering and blocking services. Some may provide it as premium services that require monthly or annual subscription fees.
Residents are advised to follow these steps to reduce robocalls:
- Do not pick calls from unknown numbers. Letting calls from unfamiliar numbers go to voicemail allows phone users to screen calls and identify legitimate calls they should return.
- Hang up as soon as you discover that a call is a robocall. Do not press any button when instructed by a voice prompt during the call. End the call immediately.
- Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. It is a registry that legitimate telemarketers consult to know those that do not want to be disturbed by robocalls. Robocalls received after placing your number on this register are potential scam calls.
- Ignore robocalls threatening severe punishments over unpaid debts. These are scammers trying to extort money.
- Report any robocall abuse to the FTC.
How to Spot and Report Cuyahoga County Phone Scams?
The Department of Consumer Affairs has identified patterns to different scams carried out in the county. Scammers scare, coerce, or hurry their victims to distract and cause them to fall for their cons. These are some of the red flags you should take note of when dealing with unknown callers:
- Scammers will want you to decide quickly and commit almost immediately. They use sentences like, “If you do not act now, this offer will slip away.” They also will not want you to research any claims they make.
- Be wary when government officials start coercing you for personal information. Do not share your information with anyone on unsolicited phone calls.
- Scammers will only want you to make payments through gift cards and wire transfers. It is their preferred means of receiving money from victims because it is usually unrecoverable. Be wary when given these options to make payments.
- Scammers will want you to pay before the prize or free offer they promise can be redeemed.
Understanding how scams in the county are executed and reporting them is key to curbing the menace. Different government agencies educate residents periodically on the antics of scammers. Educating residents has proven to be essential in preventing them from falling victim to scams. These following agencies assist county residents in dealing with scams:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ensures fair dealings among participants in the marketplace. Their guides on how to identify common phone scams and how to avoid robocalls are particularly helpful. The FTC is also in charge of the National Do Not Call Registry, where residents can put up their number to reduce robocalls. Residents can also register their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry by dialing 1 (888) 382-1222. To report robocall abuse or any other scam, use the FTC complaint assistant.
The regulator of the telecommunications industry is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Phone spoofing scams are hard to detect, but the FCC’s guidelines on how to identify spoofing and activate call blocking have proven effective. The FCC has also required more stringent means of caller authentication from the telephone carriers. Scam activities can also be reported to the FCC.
The government of Ohio has also taken the fight against phone scams seriously. The state releases scam alerts periodically for residents to get updated on scammers’ new tactics. The Office of the Attorney General receives scam reports from victims. Residents can also file reports of phone scams by dialing 1 (800) 282-0515. A consumer complaint form can be filled and submitted online as an alternative way of lodging complaints.
The Department of Consumer Affairs in Cuyahoga County has compiled scams resources to help county residents detect and avoid scams. For easy reporting of frauds, residents can reach the department by dialing (216) 443-7035 or submitting online complaints.