What are Smith County Area Codes?
Area codes are three-digit numerical prefixes assigned by telephone administrations to state provinces, territories, or counties to easily identify their calls by location. Area codes are also used in the administration and management of telephone numbers in different parts of the world.
The area code system was originally designed by the North American Numbering Plan to split regions into different Numbering Plans Areas(NPAs). In Smith County, the Texas Public Utilities Commission assigns and manages area codes. Presently, two area codes cover the Smith County area, which are:
Area Code 903
Area code 903 was established in 1990 after it was split from area code 214. It serves the Northeastern Texas area and covers Tyler, Longview, Sherman, and many other smaller communities within the area codes 903 and 430 overlay service areas.
Area Code 430
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Smith County?
A 2018 National Centre for Health Statistics Survey disclosed that about 67.9% of the Texas adult population used wireless-only services, while only 2.5% used landline-only services. The same household telephone status survey for children under 18 years showed that 76.6% of Texan children used wireless-only services exclusively, while just 1.4% used landline-only services. It may be deduced from the above statistics that Texas residents of all ages prefer wireless-only services compared to landline-only services.
Four network carriers are well known in the Smith County area. These include; Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Operating in the county with these major network carriers are Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). These are smaller network carriers that run on major networks and most times, offer cheaper services than the mother network carriers. They achieve this by buying network services at wholesale prices from the major service providers and passing on the savings to customers.
In Smith County, T-Mobile has the best network coverage with 96%. AT&T comes second with an overall network coverage of about 70%. T-Mobile covers about 66% of the county, while Sprint provides the least network coverage of 46%.
Aside from the major telephone service providers and MVNOs, another internet-run telephone service called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) operates within Smith County. VoIP uses high-speed internet connections to transmit, route, and forward phone calls. Many companies now provide VoIP services to Smith County residents. VoIP services are cheaper, faster, more reliable, and provide higher call quality than traditional telephone call services.
What are Smith County Phone Scams?
Smith county phone scams are phone calls targeted at defrauding and misleading county residents. The Texas Attorney General and various consumer protection agencies give valuable information about common scams in the area and how citizens can protect themselves from such scams and report them. Reverse phone lookup services are very instrumental in finding out phone scam perpetrators. Smith County residents who suspect that they have been targeted with scams and actual victims of phone scams, may file consumer complaints online to the Texas AG's office. Phone scams that occur in Smith county include:
What are Employment or Business Opportunities Scams?
Employment or Business opportunity scams usually require individuals to pay in advance for training or equipment. Companies or businesses that require upfront payments are most likely to be scammers, especially if residents do not have independent information about them. Jobs that are very easy to get without proper interviews and require high processing fees with promises of very little or no work, usually 'in the comfort of your home' may be scams.
What are IRS or Government Imposter Scams?
In IRS scams, scammers feign membership of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They contact residents and tell them they owe back taxes and have to pay immediately. To coerce the targets into making payments, the scammers often threaten them with arrests and huge fines. Another variation of this scam is where scammers, pretending to be law enforcement agents, contact victims with warrants, claiming they missed jury duties. The victims are then asked to make immediate payments via gift cards or wire transfers and are coerced to stay on the phone throughout the payment processes. Victims may also be required to provide personal details for tax refunds.
When people are asked to do such things, it is most likely the person they are communicating with is not a government agent. Smith County residents who are not sure of how much they owe in taxes may visit the official IRS website to find genuine IRS phone numbers to contact for confirmations. Before an agent contacts you, the IRS first sends you letters. Also, the IRS does not immediately send people to jail. Prior to any criminal punishment, there would be a process the individual is aware of.
What are Advance Fee Scams?
In advance-fee scams, scammers usually promise their victims certain kinds of benefits such as government grants, work-from-home opportunities, prizes such as foreign lotteries, loans, etc. They make these lofty promises so that their targets will pay upfront before they can enjoy the benefits they claim to provide. Very often, their payment channels include gift cards, wire transfers, or bitcoins. People who get such requests should visit the company’s official website and talk with a real representative to get necessary information about the genuine benefits the company offers. Doing a reverse phone lookup on the phone number you were contacted with is one of the easiest ways to identify scammers of this sort.
What are Emergency Scams?
Often referred to as “grandparent scams,” these scams usually involve calls from people claiming to be friends or family members in serious need. These scammers try to appeal to their targets’ emotions by making up situations that need urgent financial responses. They disguise their voices to sound convincing and spoof their caller IDs to show familiar names and phone numbers.
Typically, emergency scammers sound like they are injured, crying, or sick. They may even call names of your family members or give their locations to make their story more real. Then, they try to keep back their information or prevent you from confirming their case by telling you they are embarrassed or scared so that you do not tell anyone. In such cases, the safest way to find out if they are family or close relatives is to ask personal questions that may be extremely difficult to get from the internet. Better still, end the call and try to reach the person with the authentic contact information you know, or call someone very close to the impersonated person to confirm the situation.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Mostly used by politicians, telemarketers, and non-profit organizations, robocalls are automated telephone calls that deliver pre-recorded messages using computerized autodialers. Seeing how easy it is to reach people via robocalls, phone scammers have started using them to defraud people. When scammers use robocalls, they present bogus claims and opportunities that would sway their targets. Most scammers prefer robocalls over other scam methods because robocalls help them maintain anonymity and because robocall numbers can be easily changed.
Through robocalls, scammers impersonate various organizations and government agencies to defraud individuals or get important information from them. People may use reverse phone number lookup services to identify incoming robocalls. Here are some actions to take when you receive a robocall:
- Hang up immediately if you mistakenly answer such a call. Do not follow any prompts as doing so will leave your number vulnerable to subsequent automated messages
- Do not give out personal information such as Social Security Number (SSN), account numbers, mother's maiden name, or passwords.
- Look up an unknown phone number online using any phone number search tool. Block the phone number after identifying it to exempt your number from such calls subsequently.
- File a complaint to the FTC online or reach them via 1-888-382-1222.
- Have your number registered on the National Do Not Call Registry to exempt your number from unwanted calls, including robocalls. After 31 days of registering a number on the DNCR, it will be exempted from receiving robocalls. Any robocall received after then is most likely a scam. Report to the FTC if such calls are still received after those 31 days. You can also get important consumer information about how to block unwanted calls from the FTC.
How to Spot and Report Smith county Phone Scams?
Phone scammers have been operating since the invention of telephones. Recent technological innovations have allowed scammers to diversify their fraudulent techniques and scam more people. Law enforcement agencies are doing their best to combat phone scams. But proper information and awareness about the operation of scammers remain the most effective way to protect people from them. The following pointers will help you know if you have received a scam call:
- Aggressive persuasion to accept an offer immediately. Scammers employ this technique so that their victims do not adequately analyze the offers they present. Most legitimate organizations will allow people some time to analyze their offer and know if it is good for them.
- Threats of fines, deportation, or arrest if the victim refuses to pay some amount of money immediately. Government agencies are not known for intimidating citizens that way. A person receiving such threats is most likely speaking with a scammer.
- Requests to pay tax or for services through unpopular payment channels like gift cards or wire transfers are almost always scams. Paying through such channels makes tracking and reversal difficult, which is why scammers opt for them.
- Being asked to pay upfront for a prize or employment kit has become a very popular scam technique. Such payments may only be made after individuals have called or seen a genuine company representative–confirming that they are making the right payments.
- The caller makes bogus claims of impressive financial and luxurious benefits from the company they represent. Most often, the victim does not know much and is not affiliated with the company. Such callers often reach their targets via robocalls.
- The caller asks for personal details like your SSN, bank accounts, etc. Being asked such questions by a stranger may imply that you are speaking to an identity thief.
Reverse phone number lookup services are effective in identifying phone scammers. The following are public institutions in Smith County are fight against phone scammers and help citizens remain scam-free:
Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit - The unit protects Texas consumers from consumer fraud. It does this by accepting and addressing consumer complaints. Any citizen who experiences illegal or unfair business practices may file a complaint to the unit or call the consumer protection hotline at 1-800-621-0508.
Smith County's Sheriff Department - As the grassroots law enforcement agency, it is the county's Sheriff's department that is the closest place to report phone scams. They can also be reached on (903) 590-2661.
Federal Trade Commission - The FTC protects consumers from misleading and unfavorable marketplace practices. The National Do Not Call Registry is an FTC initiative to stop unwanted calls. Unsolicited calls received after a phone number is added to the DNC register are most likely scam calls.
Better Business Bureau - The BBB is a go-to resource for finding out how genuine businesses around Smith County. The BBB's scam tracker shows prevalent scams in different areas so that citizens can be wary of them. Dubious business offers may be reported online to the BBB.
Federal Communications Commission - The FCC's top priority is protecting consumers from unwanted calls such as illegal calls, spoofed calls, and robocalls. You can file a complaint by visiting the FCC's Consumer Complaint Center.