What are Middlesex County Area Codes?
Middlesex County is a county in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is the most populous county in New England, and 22nd in the country, with a population of over 1.6 million. The county seats used to be the Cities of Lowell and Cambridge. The Massachusetts legislature abolished the executive government of Middlesex County in 1998 due to the county’s insolvency. State agencies assumed most county functions at local levels.
Area codes consist of the first three digits of telephone numbers, and were established by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). The NANP outlines numbering plan areas (NPAs), and area codes identify the different NPAs in U.S. states. Area codes in Middlesex County are under the purview of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable.
There are currently eight area codes that cover Middlesex County and parts of the surrounding counties. These are
Area Code 617
Area code 617 is a NANP telephone area code that serves parts of Middlesex County and surrounding communities in Massachusetts. It was one of the original area codes introduced by the NANP and initially covered most of eastern Massachusetts. Middlesex County locations covered by this area code include Belmont, Cambridge, Everett, Newton, Somerville, and Watertown.
Area Code 857
Area code 857 is the telephone area code in the NANP that overlays the 617 numbering plan area. It became active in 2001.
Area Code 978
Area code 978 is a telephone area code that covers Middlesex County and other parts of northeastern Massachusetts. It split from area code 508 in 1997. Communities in Middlesex County under this NPA include Acton, Billerica, Boxborough, Burlington, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Groton, Littleton, Lowell, Maynard, Sudbury, Westford, and Wilmington.
Area Code 351
Area code 351 is the NANP telephone overlay code for the 978 numbering plan area. It became active in 2001.
Area Code 781
Area code 781 is a telephone area code that covers parts of Middlesex County and other surrounding counties. It was created as a split from area code 617 in 1997. Middlesex County locations covered under this NPA include Arlington, Bedford, Burlington, Lexington, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Waltham, Weston, Winchester, and Woburn.
Area Code 339
Area code 339 is the overlay code in the NANP for the 781 numbering plan area. It entered service in 2001.
Area Code 508
Area code 508 is a Massachusetts telephone area code in the NANP that covers several counties, including Middlesex County. It entered service in 1988. Locations in Middlesex County covered by this area code include Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Natick, Sherborn, and Wayland.
Area Code 774
Area code 774 is the telephone code in the NANP that overlays the 508 numbering plan area. It became active in 2001.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Middlesex County?
Usage of wireless telephony services has surpassed landlines usage in virtually every state and county in the U.S. A 2018 CDC survey estimated that among adults in households in Massachusetts, 39.9% exclusively used wireless telephony services and 6.5% only used landlines. Among children (under 18 years), the statistics indicated 43.7% used wireless-only telephony services, while 4% used landline-only services. These figures suggest cell phones are the preferred means of telecommunication in Middlesex County.
The four major telephone carriers provide network coverage in Middlesex County. AT&T claims the widest coverage network followed closely by Verizon and T-Mobile. Sprint offers good coverage but does not quite cover as many locations as its rivals. Middlesex County’s proximity to Boston means numerous Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) offer phone services to residents. MVNOs use the infrastructure of the major network operators to deliver telephony services at cheaper rates.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a group of technologies that deliver telephony services to consumers using IP networks, such as the internet. VoIP services are attractive alternatives to landlines and cell phones for business and home users. VoIP services are available to Middlesex County residents, at competitive rates, from a variety of companies.
What are Middlesex County Phone Scams?
Middlesex County phone scams are fraudulent schemes committed with telephony services in the county. Phone scammers aim to steal money and/or confidential information from county residents. These dishonest schemes are perpetrated using live calls, text messages, and robocalls.
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office provides information and resources to protect county residents from scammers. Victims of scams and other fraudulent practices can file consumer complaints with the A.G’s Office. Victims of phone scams can also contact their local police departments or the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office to file reports. Some common phone scams in Middlesex County are explained below.
What are Coronavirus Scams?
Scammers have taken advantage of the uncertainties concerning the 2020 coronavirus pandemic to concoct new ways to scam residents of Middlesex County. In one such scam, the callers inform their targets that they (or their family members) came into contact with persons who tested positive for coronavirus. The callers tell the targets that they need to be tested as quickly as possible, but they have to make payments for the testing kits and other medical expenses. The callers then ask for credit card information or wire transfers to facilitate the payments. These scams typically target elderly county residents.
Variations of this scam include scammers offering coronavirus medications, treatments, or vaccinations for fees and fake charities soliciting donations to aid the fight against coronavirus. Also, scammers have contacted residents and claimed they can speed up the collection of economic stimulus payments for small fees.
Authorities warn county residents about these scams. While there may be charges for coronavirus tests, legitimate health officials will not ask for your financial information if they contact you about contact tracing. Also, currently, there is no vaccination for the coronavirus, and callers purporting to have medications or treatments are most likely scammers. Residents should also always seek information about the charities they send donations. The Better Business Bureau can help residents verify the authenticity of charitable organizations that contact them. Reverse phone search applications can determine if these phone calls are from legitimate sources. Targets of these scams should contact their local police departments or the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
What are Government Impersonation Scams?
Scammers impersonate government officials to deceive their targets into sending money or providing their confidential information. In such scams, callers pretending to be government officials inform their targets that they won federally supervised lotteries. The scammers use fake federal agency names, such as the national consumer protection agency or the National Sweepstakes Bureau, a non-existent agency. They might also claim to be calling from the FTC and even spoof Caller IDs to display the FTC caller information. The callers will inform their targets that they need to pay taxes and service charges before receiving their winnings. They ask the targets to wire the money immediately, usually to foreign countries, or put it on prepaid debit cards.
In variations of these scams, the callers claim to be debt collectors for, or employees of, the IRS. They inform their targets of fake tax debts and threaten arrests and prosecutions unless they settle the debts immediately. They ask their victims to send payments by wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, and other such unconventional means.
Residents should be wary of these types of calls. Federal agencies are not involved with the disbursement of lottery winnings. No government agency will ask you to send money to receive winnings or require payments by wire transfers and prepaid cards. The IRS, or its debt collectors, do not threaten citizens to make payments for tax debts. They will also never request payments via such means as wire transfers and prepaid cards. If you receive such calls, hang up and report them to your local police department or the FTC. Reverse phone lookup services can aid in determining if these are scam calls. While it is possible for the callers to spoof Caller IDs to display legitimate government agency numbers, these services can identify spoofed numbers.
What are Utility Scams?
Scammers call county residents claiming to be representatives of their utility providers. They claim the residents owe payments, and services will be disconnected immediately unless the debts are settled. The callers may get aggressive and threaten fines, arrests, and prosecution to coerce compliance. They will demand payments by wire transfers, reloadable debit cards, or ask their victims to provide their credit or debit card information.
Strict regulations govern the cut-off of utilities, and consumers must receive several past-due notices before services can be disconnected. Utility companies do not request payments via reloadable debit cards or wire transfers or proactively request consumer financial information. If you receive these types of calls, hang up and call your utility service provider to make inquiries. A phone number search can identify if such a call is legitimately from your provider.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are automated phone calls set up to convey pre-recorded messages to the recipients. Robocalls were initially developed so sales organizations, politicians, and government agencies could reach multiple consumers with minimal effort. Scammers have adopted robocalls for their purposes because of this ability. Also, robocall numbers can be easily changed, providing a level of anonymity that further appeals to scammers.
Consumers are used to receiving robocalls from legitimate entities and scammers have also taken advantage of this by impersonating such entities on robocalls. This allows them to deceive the consumers into divulging financial and identity information. Reverse phone number lookup free services are adept at identifying robocall numbers.
The following are actions you can take to stop illegal robocalls:
- Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Massachusetts also maintains a Do Not Call List where residents can add their phone numbers to exclude them from receiving robocalls. Adding your number to these lists exempts it from receiving commercial robocalls. If you still receive robocalls after doing this, these are likely scam calls.
- Hang up once you identify a robocall. Do not follow any of the prompts given during the call. These just lead to more automated messages and set you up to receive more robocalls.
- Report illegal robocalls to the FTC by calling 1 (888) 382-1222 or submitting online complaints.
- Reverse phone searches can identify robocall numbers. Use these to identify robocalls and block these numbers.
- Phone service providers offer call-blocking services to their customers. Use these services to block robocall numbers.
The FTC issues guidelines on how to block unwanted calls on its website.
How to Spot and Report Middlesex County Phone Scams?
Applications that perform phone number searches by number, name, and address are useful tools for spotting potential scam calls. However, scammers are always coming up with different ways to defraud their targets. Consumer education and alertness remain the most accomplished means of dealing with the threat of scammers. Listed below as some indicators that unknown callers are potential scammers:
- Unsolicited requests for personal information. Scam callers make repeated requests for your personal information and become aggressive if you do not provide it. Authentic businesses and government agencies do not do this.
- Aggressive tactics to obtain compliance. The callers use high-pressure tactics to get you to comply with their requests. These include threats of audits, lawsuits, fines, arrests, and prosecution.
- Unconventional means of payment. The callers ask for payment by prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, and cryptocurrencies. All these forms of payment are untraceable and/or irreversible.
- Free offers that require payments to collect. The callers offer services, products, and even winnings that are supposedly free of charge. However, to receive any of these free offers, you must make a payment. Anything that is advertised as free, but requires a fee to obtain is almost definitely a scam offer.
For suspicious phone numbers, lookup services can trace their origins and answer questions like “who called me?” and “who is this number registered to?” These services are available online for free and for small fees and are adept at helping consumers identify potential scam calls.
Government agencies that assist Middlesex County residents in dealing with phone scams include:
Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office - The Massachusetts Attorney General is dedicated to protecting state residents from fraudsters’ ploys. Victims can file complaints on scams and other fraudulent practices with the A.G’s Office. The A.G’s Office also maintains Massachusetts Do Not Call List.
Law enforcement agencies such as the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department and the local police departments in cities in Middlesex County help residents deal with the actions of fraudsters. Report phone scams and other cases of fraud to your local law enforcement agency.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - This is the federal authority that protects consumers from fraudsters’ actions. The FTC provides tools, such as the National Do Not Call Register, to safeguard consumers from illegal phone calls that are potential scams. The FTC also provides tips on call-blocking, a useful tool for dealing with phone scammers.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) - The BBB makes available information on legitimate businesses, charitable organizations, and other commercial entities. This information helps residents identify scammers claiming to be businesses, charities, and other private organizations.