What are Washington County Area Codes?
Established by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), area codes are the three-digit numbers at the beginning of 10-digit North American phone numbers. They specify the Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs) in a state and help to simplify telephony processes. The Telecommunications Division of the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) is charged with area code implementation in the state. Washington County currently has two active area codes:
Area Code 301
Area code 301 was put into service in 1947 as one of the original 86 area codes, and it serves the western part of Maryland. Cities and communities in Washington County within the 301 NPA include Hagerstown, Clear Spring, Hancock, Keedysville, Smithsburg, and Williamsport.
Area Code 240
Area code 240 is an overlay code for the 301 NPA, put into service in 1997. It serves the same locations in Washington County as the 301 NPA.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Washington County?
In Washington County, the major phone carriers provide impressive cell phone plans and excellent network coverage. AT&T tops in Hagerstown with about 86% coverage, followed closely by Verizon, which covers 84% of the city. Both Sprint and T-Mobile offer a network spread of 70%. County residents also have the option of choosing phone plans provided by several smaller Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).
About 39.4% of Maryland adults rely solely on cell phones for telecommunication. This was revealed by a National Center of Health Statistics survey conducted in 2018 for Maryland residents. In contrast, only 3% of the state’s adult population still maintained landline phones as their sole telephony devices. Among the children demographic (under 18 years), about 49.1% preferred cellphones while an insignificant 0.8% of them lived in landline-only homes. These indicate a gradual replacement of landlines by cell phones in the state.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a modern technology that enables text messaging, voice, and video calls, over IP networks, such as broadband internet connections. With VoIP, Washington County residents now have a more affordable telephony service option to serve both personal and business needs.
What are Washington County Phone Scams?
Washington County phone scams are deceptive acts that use telephony services to acquire money or personal information from unsuspecting county residents fraudulently. Scammers usually employ various methods, some of which include robocalls, live phone calls, or text messages. In most cases, they disguise their caller IDs through phone number spoofing and impersonate reputable businesses or government officials. Scammers’ deceptive schemes, however, can be thwarted using good reverse phone lookup applications. With reverse phone lookup services, Washington County residents can uncover the identities of unknown callers and avoid most scams.
Some public agencies protect Washington County residents from phone scams and investigate phone scams reported in the county. They include:
- Washington County Sheriff’s Office
- Maryland Attorney General Office
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Maryland Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Some prevalent phone scams in Washington County are:
What are Washington County Bondsman Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters rip off Washington County residents by claiming to be bail bondsmen. The scammers inform their marks of close relatives or friends arrested or for committing crimes. Typically, they pose as bondsmen representing the alleged arrested individuals and make demands for money to fulfill such bonds. After their victims make initial payments, the scammers usually demand more money and claim that the previous money sent was insufficient to foot the necessary legal expenses. Residents who receive such calls can unravel who called using applications that allow phone number lookups by name. They can also make calls to other close relatives to verify the callers’ claims before making any financial commitment. The Washington County Sheriff’s office warns residents never to pay unverified callers. Washington County residents who are victims of bondsman scams can file complaints with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
What are Washington County Fake Check Scams?
These are frauds in which targeted county residents are contacted via phone by unknown persons who probably owe them for products sold or services rendered online. In most cases, the checks meant for payment arrive in targets’ mail without prior notice. The scammers will then call to raise the issues of overpayment and subsequently instruct victims to return the balance to them. These checks are, however, usually fake. They tell their victims to cash the entire value on the checks and use purchase gift cards with the balance. The scammers will then request unsuspecting victims to dictate the details of such gift cards to them over the phone or send my text messages. It may take some days or weeks, but the banks will eventually discover the counterfeit checks. By then, the scammers are long gone, and the victims are left with debts to repay their banks. Check scams initially go unnoticed because fake checks often have the features of genuine ones, and banks are legally bound to honor such payment instruments without delays.
The FTC warns residents to be wary of these scams and report such incidents to relevant agencies. If you receive a fake check via U.S. mail, you can file a report with the US Postal Inspection Service by calling (877) 876-2455. County residents can use free reverse phone lookup applications to uncover the real identities of these callers and avoid scams.
What are Washington County Computer Repair Scams?
These are scam schemes that dupe Washington County residents with limited computer knowledge. Callers pretending to be IT personnel at reputable tech companies call to inform targeted residents of alleged virus threats on their computers that must be resolved promptly to avoid file loss. They offer to fix the problem remotely once certain demands are met. The scammers usually ask to be granted remote access to such computers, a ploy to install malware on the PCs. They take advantage of the access to glean both financial and personal information which they use for financial and identity theft. In some cases, they will deny their victims access to their computers after their phony repairs unless they confirm payment. If contacted by an unknown person asking for remote access to your computer, hang up immediately. Call your computer company on their official phone numbers to verify such claims. Typically, tech firms do not call their customers to give unsolicited support. You can use reverse phone number lookup services to retrieve the identity of such a caller and file a report with the FTC. The FTC warns county residents never to indulge unknown persons with such demands.
What are Washington County Romance Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters prey on their marks through online dating sites, pretending to be in love with them to extort them. Scammers take advantage of citizens with bad relationship experiences who are in desperate need of a fresh start. They usually claim to be living in foreign countries or distant states within the U.S. The kind of relationships they develop may span weeks, sometimes months during which they must have gained their victim’s trust. Once they achieve this, they begin to make financial demands for urgent needs like medical bills or business emergencies. In other cases, the scammers will express interest in coming over to see their “love interest” but will claim not to be able to sponsor such trips. They often blame their financial constraints. Their “love-struck” targets will then offer to sponsor the trips, which usually cost a fortune.
In another version of romance scams, con artists will present enticing business opportunities and persuade their victims to invest their hard-earned money. The victims often comply promptly because of the trust they have built over time. Unfortunately, once the scammers get the payments, they cut all communication ties with their naive lovers and end such relationships. The scammers prefer payment channels such as wire transfers, gift cards, and cryptocurrencies. If you have reasons to doubt someone you are romantically involved with online, use applications offering reverse phone lookup services to uncover their identifying information. Never disclose personal information or transfer funds to someone you have never met in person.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are calls made by automatic dialers to deliver recorded messages to mass phone numbers. They have a vast application in telemarketing and political campaigns for legitimate purposes. However, some robocalls are annoying and convey bulk irrelevant messages. These are known as spam calls. Fraudsters often use robocalls to target residents for scams. Robocalls are used to mark active phone numbers for follow-up scam calls. In most cases, scammers spoof robocalls to fool their targets, but residents can use phone number lookup services to identify spoofed calls and avoid scams. To reduce robocall influx, you can do the following:
- Enroll your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry online or by calling 1 (888) 382-1222. If robocalls persist after 31 days of registration, regard them as potential scam calls.
- Hang up once you realize you answered a robocall, and do not indulge any instruction it gives.
- File consumer complaints about robocall abuse with the FTC or the FCC.
- Use a call-blocking application to stop future calls from identified robocalls and spam numbers. You can also educate yourself with the information provided by the FTC and FCC on how to block unsolicited robocalls.
How Can You Spot and Report Washington County Phone Scams?
Keeping abreast with information about scammers’ ploys can help Washington County residents spot phone scams and steer clear of them. The County Sheriff’s Office and other public agencies provide residents with information on prevalent scams in the county. Scammers generally deploy different tactics to exploit their targets. However, residents can use suspicious phone number lookup applications to uncover the identities of unknown callers. Common red flags of phone scams in Washington County are:
- A caller who insists on payment via wire transfers or gift cards is possibly a fraudster. Transactions on such payment channels are usually untraceable and difficult to recover.
- A caller who claims to be a government official but threatens you with arrest or a lawsuit is a potential scammer.
- An unknown caller offers an attractive business opportunity at no risk and insists that you invest immediately before such an opportunity slips off. They aim to deceive you with enticing profits and cheat you out of your money.
- A caller posing as a representative of a legitimate establishment but demands confidential information like passwords and PINs. It is uncharacteristic of legitimate businesses to make such requests.
Washington County residents who are targeted by phone scams can report to any of the following public agencies:
- Washington County Sheriff’s Office: Washington County residents can file reports on phone scams to the County Sheriff’s Office by calling (240) 313-2100. They may also file in-person complaints at 500 Western Maryland Parkway, Hagerstown, MD 21740.
- Maryland Attorney General Office: Washington County residents can file complaints of phone scams with the Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office online or via mail.
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC): The FCC receives and investigates reports about phone scams. Washington County residents can file online complaints of phone scam incidents with the FCC.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Washington County residents can report phone scams to the FTC online or by calling 1 (888) 382-1222. They are encouraged to enlist their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry to limit the number of unsolicited robocalls coming through their phones. The FTC advises residents to report unwanted robocalls once they have registered their phone numbers on the DNC list for over 31 days.