What are Montgomery County Area Codes?
Area codes are the sets of three numbers at the start of all local phone numbers in America. They define specific Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs) created by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) and indicate where phone calls originate. There are currently two area codes serving the County of Montgomery. The Maryland Public Service Commission has the authority to administer area codes in Maryland.
The two area codes currently in service in Montgomery County are area codes 301 and 240. These area codes serve the state’s western and southern parts, including Maryland’s part of the greater Washington D.C. metro area. Cities in Montgomery County covered by these area codes include Ashton, Chevy Chase, Rockville, Montgomery Village, Kensington, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Poolesville, and Takoma Park.
Area code 301
Area Code 301 was one of the original area codes introduced in 1947 by the NANP. Its Numbering Plan Area covered the entire State of Maryland for 44 years. Various parts of the state were split off to create other area codes and so shrinking its service area to the west and parts of southern Maryland.
Area code 240
Area code 240 is the overlay code for the 301 area code. It was introduced on June 1st, 1997, as new phone and pager subscriptions exhausted the 301 area code. The addition of area code 240 has provided enough numbers to last the NPA until 2025.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Montgomery County?
Wireless telephone services have become the most prevalent form of telephone services in Maryland. Data from a 2018 report by the CDC further support this conclusion. According to the report, the percentage of the population, over 18 years, using wireless-only telephone services was 39.4%. Those 18 years and over and still using landlines only made up just 3% of the state’s adult population. Among Maryland residents under 18 years, those using wireless-only services made up 49.1%, while those using only landlines were at 0.3%.
The four major carriers all have a good presence in Maryland. AT&T has the best coverage, with 98.4% followed by T-Mobile with 94.2%. Verizon and Sprint are next with 91.2% and 90.7% coverage respectively. There are also several Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in the state. MVNOs are smaller network operators that run on the major network infrastructure but offer limited services at lower rates.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a relatively new communications service that is quickly gaining popularity. VoIP is simply a way to use telephony services over IP networks such as the internet. This makes telephone services, including long-distance calls, more affordable, and more convenient for businesses and individuals in Montgomery County.
What are Montgomery County Phone Scams?
Phone scams in Montgomery County are fraudulent acts committed using telephony services and targeting residents of the county. These acts aim to steal both money and sensitive personal information from victims. The Montgomery County Police Department and the county Office of Consumer Protection provide information and warnings about phone scams that occur in the county. Residents can file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission if they are targeted by phone scammers. The ability to perform reverse phone lookups and phone number lookups using free applications will also help identify suspicious callers. A few examples of scams that occur in the county are discussed below:
What are Free Medical Test Scams?
In these scams, residents are called by scammers claiming to be from government health departments. They offer home testing for all sorts of illnesses, from diabetes to Covid-19, and request sensitive personal information. The callers claim the information is needed to check if the residents are eligible for the free tests. This is a scam as government agencies will not call to offer free tests and do not conduct home testings. Residents can try to identify these callers using reverse phone lookup applications.
What is the Utility Cut off Phone Scam?
This scam starts with the target receiving a call from someone posing as an official from the power company or any other utility provider. They claim power or gas supply to the target’s home is about to be shut off if outstanding debts are not paid. A sign that this is a scam is if they ask for personal information or payment by wire transfer or gift card. Utility companies will neither threaten immediate service disruptions nor ask for payment in gift cards or by cash transfer. Simply hang up the call and call your service provider from the number on your bill to clarify any account issues. Never provide any personal information to unknown callers over the phone no matter how threatening or persistent they are.
What are Law Enforcement Impersonation Scams?
The Montgomery County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office alerted residents in a press release about scammers posing as officers. These scammers threaten residents with immediate arrest for fake arrest warrants or failure to appear for jury duty. Listed below are some of the numbers and aliases being used by these scammers.
- A Lieutenant Avery Michaels or Ms. Franklin calling from the following numbers (240) 583-1195, (240) 794-4845, and (202 )222-8968
- A Lieutenant Greg Allen with badge number 589 or Deputy David Williams and they have been calling from (301) 310-8490. They are asking targets to call him back at (410) 787-5118, (240) 776-2733, and (240) 278-0937
- A scammer using the names Sergeant Mark Airs or Sergeant Kevin Harris and asking victims to call him back at (240) 306-5757 and (240) 233-3208
- A Deputy Clarence Lawson of the Parole and Probation Division asks targets to call back on (240) 788-2422. Please note that The Sheriff's Office does not have a "Parole and Probation Division."
These are just a few of the numbers used. Just because a number is not listed here does not mean the suspicious call received is real. Do not call back any of the numbers. Please note that law enforcement will never ask for money, prepaid cash card payments, or financial information over the phone.
What are the Medicare Card Scams?
County authorities have received reports of scam calls informing residents that their medicare cards are invalid and that they need to order temporary Medicare cards for between $5 and $50. The Centre for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) states that any new Medicare card will automatically come to you, and Medicare will never call you. Running reverse phone lookup searches on the numbers that called could aid in identifying these scammers.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are automated phone calls that deliver preset messages. They were initially introduced as a tool for marketers to reach as many consumers as possible. Scammers have co-opted the technology because it enables them to contact several people covertly. Posing as legitimate businesses, these robocall scammers use scripted conversations to steal money or sensitive data. If a resident believes they are the victim of a robocall, they can perform a free phone number lookup to answer the question “who called me?
Some simple steps to take if your receive robocalls are listed below
- Drop a call as soon as you realize that it is a robocall. Do not follow prompts provided to de-list your number as this only confirms that your number is active and ready for more robocalls.
- Never give up personal information or banking details during these calls.
- Research and make use of free phone number lookup and reverse number lookup applications to identify and block robocall numbers.
- If you already have a phone number lookup application, use it to block robocall phone numbers.
- Register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry. Real businesses and marketers subscribe to this list and do not call numbers on it. If you still get robocalls after registering, they are likely to be scam calls.
- Residents can report robocalls to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
How Can You Spot and Report Montgomery County Phone Scams?
Fraudsters keep developing new and more devious ways to steal money and sensitive information from unsuspecting individuals. An easy way to check for scams is to put suspicious phone numbers through reverse phone lookup services to identify the callers. Some signs that calls are from scammers include:
- Calls from utility companies threatening immediate disruption of service or offering discounts outside official channels. These are scams as utility companies never threaten immediate disconnections or ask for payments over the phone for any reason.
- Calls from government agencies asking for payment outside official channels. Government agencies will never insist on payments in wire transfers, bitcoin, or prepaid cards.
- Law enforcement officials call and ask for payments to clear crimes and warrants and use threats of arrests to coerce compliance. The police will neither threaten immediate arrest over the phone nor ask for money to forget crimes.
- Unsolicited calls from businesses or marketers offering discounted or free goods and services and attempting to collect payments or account information. Real businesses will not attempt to collect your sensitive information over the phone. Do not give out such information especially during a call you did not initiate.
- Callers offer gifts and free services but require upfront payments to provide them. Genuinely free items should not have to be paid for.
The best way to deal with the threat of phone scams is to be informed about prevalent scams and how to spot and avoid them. Residents who use reverse number lookup applications and can perform phone number searches by name and address can retrieve fraudsters’ information.
Some government agencies tasked with combating scammers and providing consumers with assistance with scams are listed below.
Local Law Enforcement
The Montgomery County Police Department and The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office are the main branches of law enforcement in the county. These agencies issue information and alerts about scams occurring within the county. Residents who wish to file complaints may do so in person at any of the Montgomery County Police Department districts.
Local Division of Consumer Protection
The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is the consumer protection agency for the county. They provide information and scam alerts for the residents of the county and protect consumers from fraudulent business practices. Victims of phone scams can make complaints online.
State Division of Consumer Protection
The Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland Attorney General's Office is the chief consumer advocate for the state. The division provides information and alerts about scams in the state through consumer publications. Residents of the state can also file complaints with the office in person or online.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The Federal Communications Commission is in charge of regulating communication nationwide. Its job is to prevent fraudulent uses of communications channels including phones and illegal robocalls. The FCC provides scam alerts and advice on how to stop robocalls and texts. Victims of scams can submit complaints online to the FCC.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission protects consumers from fraudulent and criminal business practices. The FTC is in charge of the National Do Not Call Registry and provides information on blocking unwanted calls. Phone numbers on this registry do not receive robocalls from telemarketers and organizations that subscribe to the service. If your phone number is on the register and you still receive spam calls, these are likely scam calls. Consumers can make complaints online or by calling the FTC on 1-888-382-1222.