Only one area code covers the entirety of Hampshire County. This is area code 413. An area code is a three-digit designation for a numbering plan area (NPA). It is easily recognized in 10-digit American phone numbers as the first three digits. Area codes and NPAs were created with the introduction of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) in 1947. AT&T created the NANP to unified the different call routing systems used by North American phone carriers. The new system made long-distance call routing easier and improved call handovers across telephone exchanges.
Area Code 413
Area code 413 covers the westernmost part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is one of the few original codes introduced in 1947 that has never been split or overlaid. The area code is projected to serve the residents of the eastern third of Massachusetts until 2041 when it will be exhausted. Communities in Hampshire County served by area code 413 include the cities of Easthampton and Northampton and the towns of Amherst, Middlefield, and Southampton.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Hampshire County?
Most of the residents of Hampshire County and the rest of Massachusetts still use both landline and wireless phones for communication. This trend was recorded in a 2018 wireless substitution survey conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The results of the survey indicated that 39.9% of the adults living in the state used only wireless phone services for telecommunication. In contrast, the proportion of this demographic that qualified as landline-only users was 6.5%. Among minors in Massachusetts, 43.7% solely relied on wireless phone services while 4% used only landline phones for telecommunication.
AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and a number of MVNOs offer cell phone plans to residents of Hampshire County. While AT&T’s network is available in 99.9% of Massachusetts, Verizon and T-Mobile boast 97% and 94% coverage of the state and Sprint covers 87% of its zip codes. Generally, cell phone plans from MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) are more affordable than those offered by the national carriers. MVNOs are small, regional carriers that rely on the network infrastructure of big carriers rather than building out theirs. They buy network services in bulk from the big carriers and pass on some of the savings to their subscribers.
Residents of Hampshire County can also sign up for phone plans from VoIP service providers. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a telecommunication technology that transmits voice signals over the internet as data packets. VoIP phone services require broadband internet access. For homes and businesses with fast internet access, VoIP phone plans are more affordable than landline and cell phone plans. VoIP phone services also cost less for long-distance and teleconferencing calls.
What are Hampshire County Phone Scams?
Hampshire County phone scams are telephone frauds committed in the county or targeted at those living in the county. Phone scammers contact their victims by calling or texting them. They can also use robocalls, spam calls, caller ID spoofing, and phishing to find and defraud their targets. These fraudsters aim to use deception to steal money or vital confidential information from unsuspecting residents of Hampshire County.
Businesses and residents of Hampshire County can also fight back against phone scams with tools that help them evade and unmask fraudsters. Such tools include call blocking and reverse phone number lookup. These tools are more effective when residents also learn about common telephone frauds in their communities and sign up for alerts to keep abreast of the latest tactics used by scammers. Massachusetts’ Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations (OCABR) identifies the following as the most common phone scams in the state: IRS/Fake government entity scams, grandparent scams, utility scams, and lottery scams.
What are Hampshire County IRS/Fake Government Entity Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters contact their victims by calling or texting them while claiming to be employees of the IRS or other government agencies. When impersonating the IRS, these impostors claim their targets need to pay the taxes they owe or risk immediate arrest, prosecution, deportation, forfeiture of their homes, or revocation of their driver’s or business licenses. One definitive way to spot these scams is that the impostors ask for payments made to them in cash, or by wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or cryptocurrencies.
Hampshire County residents can avoid these scams by learning how the IRS and other government agencies work. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by phone. Rather, they start correspondences by mail and only call when such calls are scheduled by taxpayers. The IRS also only collects payments made out to the United State Treasury and not individuals. A quick phone number lookup search on the number used by a stranger claiming to represent the IRS or other government agencies can reveal that they are a scammer.
What are Hampshire County Grandparent Scams?
These target elderly residents of the county and prey on their willingness to help out their loved ones. In these scams, fraudsters call their targets claiming to be their grandkids or some other loved ones. They may also pretend to be law enforcement agents or attorneys claiming to help loved ones in trouble or claim they are kidnappers calling for a ransom. When scammers pretend to be the loved ones of their targets, they ask for urgent financial help to get out of emergencies. While asking that their calls be kept a secret, they claim to need the money to get out of jail, get out of a foreign country, pay legal fees, or pay hospital bills.
The OCABR warns residents to make plans with their elderly relatives about what to do if they receive such calls. Those targeted by such scams must call other family members to verify the callers’ claims. They can also directly call the loved ones in question to verify that they truly need the financial help requested. A free reverse phone number lookup can also help verify the identity of a suspected caller claiming to be a loved one.
What are Hampshire County Utility Scams?
These are also impostor scams. In these scams, fraudsters claim to be representatives of local utility companies and threaten to cut power or gas to the homes or businesses of their targets if they do not send money to cover outstanding bills. Residents of Hampshire County should never pay their utility bills over the phone. If contacted by strangers claiming to be bill collectors for local utility companies, they should hang up and call those companies using the phone numbers listed on their last utility bills. Under no circumstance should they allow strangers to enter their homes while claiming to collect payments for utility bills.
When contacted by a stranger calling to collect on a utility bill, ask them to verify their identity by providing their official ID number. Verify their identity with the utility company before listening further. Alternatively, use a suspicious phone number lookup to search their phone number and see if it is registered to the utility company in question. Do not pay for a utility bill with cash, prepaid debit card, gift card, wire transfer, Venmo transfer, or cryptocurrency.
What are Hampshire County Lottery Scams?
Fraudsters running lottery scams contact their victims and congratulate them on winning lotteries and sweepstakes. In most cases, these are lotteries the victims never entered in or even know about. Scammers usually claim their targets have won foreign lotteries because they know these are harder to verify. They ask the victims for upfront payment to cover taxes and other processing fees before they can claim their winnings.
Hampshire County residents should know that it is impossible to win a lottery or sweepstakes they never entered in. Similarly, it is illegal for lottery/sweepstakes organizers to demand money before winners can receive their prizes. When contacted by a stranger claiming you won a prize, free gift, or lottery, find out who called by running their number through a phone number lookup search. The search result will likely reveal that the caller is not associated with the lottery organizer or that their number was previously flagged for similar scams.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are automated phone calls delivering pre-recorded messages to target audiences of phone users. These calls are placed by auto-dialers playing back messages recorded by voice synthesizers. Robocalls are easy to set up and require little effort to keep running. When they were first introduced, robocalls were meant as mass communication tools for political campaigns, telemarketers, and organizations that need to deliver public service announcements. These days, most of the robocalls received by residents of Hampshire County are from scammers and dishonest telemarketers.
Spam calls are also bulk calls sent out to large groups of users. These are usually placed by human agents delivering similar messages taken from prepared scripts. Both robocalls and spam calls are unsolicited and unwanted calls that are hard to stop. However, residents can reduce the number of these calls reaching their phones by doing the following:
- Let calls from unknown numbers go to voicemails. Review these later and then decide which ones you would like to return
- Do not stay too long on a robocall or spam call. Hang up as soon as you realize you are on one
- Do not follow prompts given during robocalls and spam calls about removing your number from their call lists. These prompts are meant to confirm active lines and then target them with more unwanted calls
- Set up your phone to block calls from unknown numbers or blacklisted numbers. Ask your carrier if they offer call blocking as part of your phone plan. There are also third-party apps that offer call blocking relying on blacklists of numbers flagged by users for spam and scam attempts
- Investigate unknown callers by identifying them with free reverse phone lookup. This will help unmask scammers, spammers, and stalkers. You can also add the information gathered to reports submitted to law enforcement when complaining both these calls
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry as well as Massachusetts’ Do Not Call List. This will stop robocalls from legitimate telemarketers. Robocalls received after 31 days of joining these registries are likely from scammers and dishonest telemarketers
How to Spot and Report Hampshire County Phone Scams
Scammers get creative with the schemes to defraud unsuspecting residents. The key to spotting telephone frauds and avoiding phone scams is looking out for signs of scam attempts. Regardless of the sophistication of a phone scam, its goal is to defraud its target or steal identity and financial information. When talking to strangers on the phone, residents of Hampshire County should look out for the following signs of phone scams:
- Request for money by unofficial channels - whether paying a fine, an outstanding bill, back taxes, or sending money to a charity, be wary of strangers asking for money in cash, gift card, prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, or by direct wire transfer
- Threats to enforce compliance - scammers impersonating authority figures are quick to resort to threats to scare their victims and force them to comply with their demands
- High-pressure sales tactics - fraudsters pushing business and investment scams want to close the deal immediately. They push their victims to commit immediately without taking the time to think closely about their offers. They will claim their no-risk, high-reward offers are only available for a limited time or offer even steeper discounts if you pay for goods/services now
- Reluctance to provide written documentation backing their claims and identities - scammers cannot provide written records supporting their identities or their unbelievable claims
The OCABR encourages residents of the state to report phone scams whether they were successful or not. These reports can help authorities identify and apprehend fraudsters. They also help raise public awareness of prevalent phone scams and tactics used by scammers. Residents of Hampshire County can report phone scams to the following agencies:
- The Massachusetts Attorney General's Consumer Advocacy & Response Division - this is the state’s consumer protection agency. Its responsibilities include investigating reports of consumer frauds and unfair business practices. File a complaint about a consumer scam to this agency online or by calling (617) 727-8400
- The Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) - this is the office responsible for investigating and prosecuting IRS scams. Report an IRS impersonation scam to this agency
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - is the federal consumer protection agency. Its roles include protecting Americans against unfair and deceptive business practices. Residents of Hampshire County can report consumer scams to the FTC by calling (877) 382-4357 or submitting fraud complaints online
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - is the federal agency responsible for regulating all communications in the country, including telecommunication providers and tools. Residents can report illegal robocalls, spam calls, caller ID spoofing, and phishing as well as scams perpetrated with these tools to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center