What are Harris County Area Codes?
An area code comprises the three digits that start a North American phone number. The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) designates area codes to identify specific Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs). In Texas, the Public Utilities Commission is responsible for the maintenance and implementation of area codes.
Five area codes currently serve Harris County, covering all of Harris and parts of surrounding counties. These are:
Area Code 713
Area code 713 is a Texas telephone area code in the NANP. It covers the City of Houston and the surrounding suburban areas. Area code 713 is one of the original NANP area codes, initially covering the entire southeastern quadrant of Texas. It was split off to contain only the Houston area in 1983. Locations in Harris County covered by this area code include Baytown, Bellaire, Channelview, Deer Park, El Lago, Hillshire Village, Houston, Humble, Jacinto City, and La Porte.
Area Code 281
Area code 281 is a telephone area code that initially served the locations outside of Beltway 8 in the Houston area. It merged with the 713 NPA in 1999 to cover the entire Houston area. Harris County locations under this area code include Bunker Hill Village, Galena Park, Hedwig Village, Kingswood, Nassau Bay, Pasadena, Seabrook, South Houston, Spring Valley Village, Tomball, Webster, and West University Place.
Area Code 832
Area code 832 is a telephone overlay area code for the entire Houston area. It overlaid the 713 and 281 numbering plan areas in 1999.
Area Code 346
Area code 346 is a telephone overlay code in the NANP. It was introduced in 2014 as the second overlay code for the 713/281 NPA.
Area Code 936
Area code 936 is a Texas telephone area code that covers a few outer portions of the Houston metropolitan area in Harris County and several locations in the surrounding counties. Locations in Harris County served by this area code include Hockley and Waller.
What Are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Harris County?
A survey by the CDC in 2018 discovered that about 76.6% of children in Texan households rely on wireless telephony services. Only about 1.4% lived in homes that use landline exclusively. Among Texan adults (over 18), about 67.9% relied on wireless services, while about 2.5% used landlines. This has been a trend over the recent past as cell phones move to supplant landlines as the popular means of telecommunication.
All four major phone carriers provide good coverage of Harris County, with excellent coverage offered in the City of Houston. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all claim 100% coverage of the city, while Sprint follows closely with 99.9% coverage. Similarly, numerous MVNOs provide phone services in the county. Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are local businesses that leverage the infrastructure of the major operators to offer telephony services at lower costs.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses the internet as the medium to deliver telephony services, rather than copper wires and radio waves. The advances in internet technologies make VoIP services very attractive for business and personal use. Several companies in Harris County offer a variety of VoIP products and services at desirable rates.
What Are Harris County Phone Scams?
These are fraudulent acts committed against residents of Harris County, using telephone services. If you receive calls from suspicious phone numbers, lookup services can determine where the calls originated from and answer the question “who called?” The Harris County Attorney’s Office provides consumer alerts on scams to county residents. Residents can make their complaints to the County Attorney’s Office at 1019 Congress, 15th floor, Houston, TX 77002, or call (713) 755-5101. Alternatively, report it to the FTC. Common phone scams prevalent in Harris County, include:
What are One-Ring Phone Scams?
These scams involve the targets receiving robocalls that hang up after the first two rings. The intention is to get the receivers to call the numbers back. Doing this runs up per-minute toll charges for the caller, that are accruable in the summer. These robocalls have typically originated from the 222 and 232 country codes for Mauritania and Sierra Leone. Phone number lookup services identify international numbers and the countries they represent. If you do not have contacts in these countries, there is no reason to return such calls.
What are Impersonation Scams?
Impersonation scams are widespread in the State of Texas. There are several variations of impersonation scams, but the common theme is that the callers impersonate employees of government agencies to deceive the receivers. Their goals are to fraudulently obtain personal information from their targets or coerce them to make payments. The Harris County Attorney’s Office, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Harris County Constable, and the Comptroller’s Office are some agencies routinely impersonated in these scams. The scammers call their targets, inform them of fictitious issues, and ask for their details to resolve the situations. In some variations, they ask for money and insist the victims settle the payments over the phone by wiring funds or with debit cards. The scammers typically employ coercion tactics to get their targets to comply, often threatening them with audits, license revocations, and even arrest.
Phone number searches provide information about suspicious phone numbers and lookup details about the registrants. However, some of these scammers can spoof Caller ID to display the phone numbers of these government agencies. In such situations, being able to identify the tell-tale signs of phone scams is essential. If a strange caller requests for your personal information or aggressively asks for payments, end the call as government officials do not do this. Call the government agency yourself and make inquiries about the legitimacy of the request.
What are Tax Scams?
In this new twist to an old scam, scammers steal client data from tax professionals and file fraudulent tax returns in their targets’ names. They use the taxpayers’ accounts to receive the refunded amounts. The scammers then contact the taxpayers, claiming to be debt collection agents working for the IRS, to claim the funds were deposited in error. They provide their accounts and ask their victims to forward the funds to their collection agencies. Alternatively, the taxpayers receive robocalls purportedly from the IRS threatening them unless they return the funds. A phone number is provided for the taxpayer to call for instructions on how to return the funds.
The IRS provides details for the process of returning erroneous tax refunds on its website. Searches using reverse phone number lookup tools can identify if the numbers calling to ask for the refunds are from legitimate entities.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Automated phone calls designed to deliver pre-recorded messages on behalf of marketers, political organizations, and non-profits are known as robocalls. Robocalls are popular with phone scammers because they provide them with anonymity and allow them to reach a lot more potential targets with minimal effort. Phone users are used to receiving robocalls from legitimate organizations, so they let their guard down when answering these calls. This works in favor of the scammers as the receivers’ relaxed approach makes it easier for scammers to pull off the scams.
Scammers use robocalls to obtain sensitive information from their victims, to facilitate financial or identity thefts. A reverse number lookup service can confirm if an incoming call is a robocall so the receiver can screen it. The Texas PUC maintains a Do Not Call list for residents of the state. Adding your phone number to this list exempts it from being called by businesses using robocalls.
If you receive a robocall, authorities advise you to:
- End the call once you realize it is a robocall. Following any of the prompts provided during the call just leads to more automated messages.
- Phone number lookup free services can identify robocalls. Use these tools to confirm and block these numbers.
- Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry to exempt it from receiving robocalls. If you still receive robocalls after doing this, the odds are these are scam calls. You can also add your number to the Texas Do Not Call List.
- File complaints on illegal robocalls with the FTC online or call 1-(888)-382-1222.
The FTC provides useful information on its website, including how to block unwanted calls.
How to Spot and Report Cook County Phone Scams?
The best ways to combat the threat of scammers are by staying informed and remaining vigilant. Fraudsters are always modifying their scams to find new ways to defraud residents. Phone number lookup services can answer the question “who is the number registered to?”, which can prove useful in avoiding scammers. Familiar hallmarks of phone scams include:
- The callers adopt aggressive tactics and issue threats of audits, fines, and arrest to coerce you to reveal confidential information or make payments.
- Free prizes, services, or products get offered to recipients, but a fee must be paid to redeem any of these “free” items.
- Payments are required in a specific manner, such as wire transfers to debit cards, gift cards, and even bitcoin. Payments made in any of the desired formats are untraceable and lost once scammers receive them.
- The caller makes repeated unsolicited requests for your confidential information. Be very wary of strangers requesting your personal information, especially if you did not initiate the process.
Online services can conduct reverse phone number lookups by address, name, and phone number, and these have proven helpful against phone scams. Harris County public agencies committed to combating phone scammers and providing assistance to residents include:
Office of the Harris County Attorney - The County Attorney’s Office provides consumer protection information and alerts on scams committed in Harris County. Contact the Attorney’s Office if you have been a victim of fraud in Harris County.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office - The Sheriff’s Office provides information and updates on scams perpetrated in Harris County. Victims of scams can file reports with the Harris County Sheriff online or at the Sheriff’s Office.
Harris County Constables - The Harris County Constable provides information and consumer alerts about scams committed in their local precincts. Victims of scams can submit their complaints to their local precinct Constable.
Better Business Bureau - The Better Business Bureau is a premium source of information on legitimate business entities registered in Harris County. Residents of Harris County can use the information available from the BBB to identify fraudulent businesses.
Federal Trade Commission - The FTC is a federal government agency that protects consumers from deceptive and fraudulent practices. The National Do Not Call Registry is part of its efforts to eliminate unwanted calls. Adding your number to the DNC register makes it illegal for businesses using robocalls to contact you. If you continue to receive unsolicited calls after listing your number on the DNC, these are most likely scam calls.