What are Fort Bend County Area Codes?
Area codes are the first three numbers of phone numbers in America. The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) assigns these numbers to identify telephone service areas called Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs). An area code indicates where a phone number was registered and shows the origin of a phone call. The Texas Public Utility Commission is in charge of implementing area codes for the state. There are currently five area codes in service in Fort Bend County.
Area code 713
Area code 713 is one of the original area codes created for Texas in 1947 and originally covered the entire southeastern quadrant of the state. It has undergone several splits over time as more phone numbers were needed, and new area codes were created to bear the load. It currently covers the eastern part of Fort Bend, most of Harris County, and parts of the surrounding counties. Cities in Fort Bend covered by this area code include Richmond, Sugar Land, Arcola, Fulshear, Meadows Place, Rosenberg, Weston Lakes, Missouri City, and Houston.
Area code 979
Area Code 979 was split from the 409 NPA in February 2000. It covers an area between the Houston and Austin Metro areas and extends south to the gulf coast. This area includes the western section of Fort Bend. Locations in Fort Bend covered by this area code include Guy, Kendleton, Needville, Beasley, and Orchard.
Area code 281
Area code 281 was split off from area code 713 in 1996, but the two service areas were recombined in 1999. It then became an overlay code for the combined area. Overlay area codes are introduced to add more numbers in an NPA.
Area code 832
Area code 832 is a telephone area code on the NANP that overlays the 713 NPA. It was introduced in January 1999.
Area code 346
Area code 346 is a NANP overlay code for the 713 NPA. It entered into service in October 2014.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Fort Bend County?
Wireless phone services have replaced landlines as the most dominant form of telephone services in Texas. Data from a 2018 National Health Interview Survey supports this conclusion. According to the survey report, among the state’s residents over 18 years, users of wireless-only telephone services made up 67.9% of the total. Landline-only users made up about 2.5% of this demographic. For minors in the state, landline-only users made up 1.4%, and wireless-only service users made up 76.6% of the demographic.
The major network carriers all provide phone services in the state. AT&T has the best coverage at 96.6% closely followed by Verizon with 91.1% and then T-Mobile with 85.9%. Sprint has the least coverage at 56.3%. Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) also provide services within the state as alternatives to the major carriers. These smaller networks use the major networks’ infrastructure and provide similar services at budget prices.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a communication technology that allows traditional telephone services to operate over internet connections. It is a cost-effective alternative and has seen a rise in popularity with many different companies providing phone services for both homes and offices.
What are Fort Bend County Phone Scams?
These are fraudulent acts committed via telephony services with the aim of stealing personal information or money from county residents. The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Attorney General’s Office are the key law enforcement agencies in the county responsible for protecting residents against scams. Residents can also protect themselves by using reverse phone number lookup applications. These applications can associate suspicious phone numbers with names and addresses and help screen these numbers. Anyone who has been a scam victim can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Communication Commission. The most common phone scams in Fort Bend County are discussed below.
What are Sweepstakes Scams?
In a sweepstakes scam, the scammer calls the target to tell them they have won a prize in a contest even if they do not remember entering it. However, the scammer says there is a requirement to pay taxes or a processing fee to release the prize. The scammer will then ask for banking details or ask the target to pay the taxes to them to process the prize. Do not respond to any requests for money and do not give out sensitive information on an unsolicited phone call. Verify the legitimacy of the competition independently. Residents can use reverse phone number lookup applications to retrieve information about these callers.
What are Free Relief Check Scams?
In this scam, the target receives a call from the scammer claiming that they qualify for a free relief check or grant. The scammer will then attempt to collect personal information or money under the guise of processing your grant. Always ask for details about the relief or grant especially if you did not apply for one. Never give out banking or personal information to these types of callers over the phone. These scammers will claim to be from reputable organizations to give the scam legitimacy. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has a scam tracker used to check scams or complaints and identify companies connected to them.
What are Law Enforcement Impersonation Scams?
The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office (FBCSO) has alerted residents of fraudsters impersonating sheriff deputies to extort money and steal private information. The scammers call unsuspecting residents and tell them bench warrants have been issued for them for missing jury duty or for unpaid traffic tickets. They threaten arrest if the target does not pay and harass the victim into making payments immediately over the phone. The scammer asks for money in prepaid cards, gift cards, or arranges to meet up and collect cash. The Sheriff’s Office will never threaten any resident with arrest or ask for money to prevent an arrest. Any resident that receives such a call should hang up and call the FBCSO non-emergency phone line on (281) 341-4665 or file a report online.
What are Fake Debt Scams?
In this scam, the scammer calls their target claiming to be from a debt collection agency. The scammer informs the target that they will be arrested if they do not immediately pay off a bogus debt. They try to get the target to pay through untraceable channels like Green Dot prepaid cards, bitcoin, and wire transfers.
If you are unaware of the debt claimed by the caller, hang up immediately. Do not allow these scammers to intimidate you. If they ask for any personal details, hang up because this is information they should already have. Legitimate debt collectors do not ask for payment by such irregular means. Use reverse phone lookup applications to retrieve information on the identities of these callers.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
An automated phone call used to deliver a recorded message is referred to as a robocall. Robocalls were created to reach large audiences by marketers and businesses quickly but have been co-opted by scammers. Scammers use robocall for their cans because it enables them to reach a lot of potential targets covertly. Residents that receive robocalls can put the phone numbers used for them through reverse phone number lookup applications to try and identify their origins. Here are some tips for dealing with robocalls:
- Hang up a call immediately you discover it is a robocall. Do not follow any instructions given by the recording as this marks your number for more robocalls.
- Send any calls from unknown phone numbers to voicemail and only call back those that leave legitimate messages.
- Register your phone numbers with the Texas No Call List, and the National Do Not Call Registry. Real organizations and marketers consult these registries and know not to robocall the phone numbers on them.
- Download and install a phone number lookup application. This will help identify, screen, and block robocalls and spam calls, and a lot of these applications are available for free.
- File a report about any robocall abuse with the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 1 (888) 382-1222.
How Can You Spot and Report Fort Bend County Phone Scams?
Most new scams are variations of old scams. Scammers continuously refine these scams to give them better chances of tricking their victims. Therefore, the best way to avoid scams is to be able to spot the tell-tale signs of scams and how they operate. Being able to use a reverse phone number lookup application to identify an unknown number by name and address is also useful. Listed below are signs to look out for when determining whether a phone call is a scam call:
- Calls from strangers claiming you have a problem they need to solve. Utility companies and tech support do not make unsolicited calls. They will only contact you if you have reported a problem to them first.
- Callers asking for information they should already have. Scammers claim to be from banks or utility companies and then ask you to confirm your accounts’ details. Legitimate businesses never do this because this is the information they already have.
- Callers that threaten you with arrest, lawsuits, and other punitive actions to get you to provide money and information. Law enforcement and other agencies will never threaten or coerce residents to obtain money or information.
- Callers that offer supposedly free items and ask for payments to redeem them. Do not pay for anything advertised as free.
- Callers trying to collect payment in bitcoin, wire transfers, prepaid cards, gift cards, and other untraceable channels. Scammers use these payment channels because they are easy to redeem and hard to trace.
Some of the government institutions that provide information about phone scams to Fort Bend County residents and assistance to victims of these scams include:
Local Law Enforcement
The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office is the primary law enforcement agency in the county. They release regular alerts and information to educate residents about scams within the county. They use local TV news and social media like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to do this. Residents that have been targeted by scams can call the Sheriff’s Office non-emergency phone line at (281) 341-4665 or file a report online.
State Division of Consumer Protection
The Texas Attorney General Office is in charge of consumer advocacy for the state. It provides regular alerts and information about common scams and advises on how to spot phone scams. Residents can report any incidents with scammers by filing a report online or calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1 (800) 621-0508
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission protects citizens around the country from fraudulent and unfair business activities. It educates people about scams with regular alerts and operates the National Do Not Call Register. Residents can report scams online on the FTC website or by calling 1 (888)-382-1222.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)The Federal Communications Commission is in charge of monitoring the communication industry nationwide. It gives updates and information about phone scams occurring in the country. It has guides to spotting phone spoofing and stopping unwanted robocalls. Residents that have experienced any form of fraud can file complaints online through the FCC website.