There are two area codes serving Madera County. These are area codes 209 and 559. Area codes are three-digit designations for numbering plan areas (NPAs). Both NPAs and area codes were created when the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) was introduced in 1947. The NANP divided the United States into NPAs corresponding to unique sections of the nation’s phone network and assigned 86 area codes to these. The number of area codes in use in the country has expanded significantly to cope with the rapid growth of phone subscribers and communication devices. In a typical 10-digit American phone number, the area code is represented by the first three digits.
Area Code 209
Created from a split from area code 415, area code 209 came into service on October 26, 1957. Its NPA shrank when area code 559 was split from it in 1998. This area code covers only a small part of Madera County with Ahwahnee being its most populous section of the county under this area code.
Area Code 559
Created on November 14, 1998, area code 559 was split from area code 209 to cover the southern half of the NPA formerly served by 209. Communities in Madera County covered by area code 559 include Ahwahnee, Chowchilla, Madera, and Coarsegold.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Madera County?
Like the rest of the state, most of the residents of Madera County have substituted their landline phones with wireless phones. The results of a 2018 wireless substitution survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics showed that 55.4% of the adults in the state only used wireless phones for telecommunication. In contrast, only 3.3% of them still relied exclusively on landline phones. Among California residents under the age of 18, 63.5% of them were wireless-only phone users while 1.8% indicated they only used landline phones.
Residents of Madera County enjoy phone services from national carriers as well as regional ones. Verizon leads the major carriers by coverage in the state. Its network spans 77% of California while AT&T and T-Mobile have 76.1% and 72.7% coverage of the state respectively. Regional carriers offering phone services in Madera County are Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) that share and lease network infrastructure and services from bigger carriers. They can offer cheaper cell phone plans because they buy network services in bulk and pass on some of the savings to their subscribers.
VoIP phone services are also available in Madera County. VoIP service providers can provide phone services to residents and local businesses with broadband internet access. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a network communication technology that enables phone calls over the internet by transmitting video and voice signals as data packets. VoIP phone plans are cheaper than landline and cell phone plans for users with fast internet access. VoIP also makes long and long-distance calls affordable.
What are Madera County Phone Scams?
Madera County phone scams are telephone frauds committed by fraudsters in the county or those outside of the county but targeting its residents and businesses. Phone scammers find and communicate with their targets by calls and text messages. They may also employ robocalls and spam calls in finding new targets for their scams. To trick these unsuspecting residents, scammers also use caller ID spoofing and phishing to impersonate loved ones as well as employees of government agencies, and reputable private organizations.
To avoid phone scams, Madera County residents should learn to use call blocking, a feature that filters out unwanted calls. They can also fight scams with reverse phone number lookup, a search service useful for identifying unknown callers. In addition to these tools, residents should also know all about the common scams in their communities and shifts in scam trends there too. Some of the most common phone scams in California are credit card and loan scams, charity scams, lottery scams, and travel scams.
What are Madera County Credit Card and Loan Scams?
The most common variations of these scams are advance fee scams in which fraudsters target people with poor credit history who have trouble obtaining loans and credit cards from traditional sources. These scammers ask their victims to pay them to help them get access to government and private loans or credit cards. Fraudsters can also swindle unsuspecting residents by charging them while promising to protect their credit cards from identity theft and to lower their credit card rates.
Madera County residents should know that it is illegal for lenders to ask those asking for loans upfront payment before giving out loans. Similarly, no one can make loan or credit card guarantees to anyone with no credit, bad credit, or a history of bankruptcy. If contacted by someone promising a loan or a credit card for an upfront payment, investigate the caller further with a phone number search. This may show that the number used has been flagged for previous scams or that the caller is not who they claim they are.
What are Madera County Charity Scams?
These are most common after natural disasters such as forest fires, earthquakes, and storms. Fraudsters contact their targets via robocalls and cold calls much like legitimate charity fundraisers do. They may request donations on behalf of legitimate charities or make up charity names that sound like real ones. Before sending a donation, make sure to confirm the caller’s affiliation with the named charity by investigating them with a reverse phone lookup.
You should also check that the named charity is legitimate and registered to seek donations in California. Do so by visiting the charity page of the California Department of Justice or by calling (916) 210-6400. Research the charity using tools and directories provided by these reputable charity watchdogs: BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and CharityWatch. Lastly, ask the caller if the donation will be tax deductible and the percentage of the donation going to those who need help. Make sure to request written documentation from the charity supporting the caller’s claims.
What are Madera County Lottery Scams?
In these scams, callers contact residents out of the blue to congratulate them on winning the lottery, sweepstakes, or similar competitions offering free prizes. While getting their victims excited about bogus winnings, the fraudsters then ask them for money to pay taxes on their winnings and to cover processing fees. Those who eagerly send such money find out soon enough that they have not won or that the lotteries and competitions referenced do not exist.
If contacted by a stranger claiming you won a prize money or free products and services, curb your enthusiasm long enough to confirm their claims. Start with a free reverse phone lookup to establish the caller’s identity or unmask them as a scammer. See if they truly represent the organizer of the lottery or sweepstakes or the company offering free prizes. Call the organizer directly to ask about the lottery, the winner, and the requirements for receiving the prize.
What are Madera County Travel Scams?
Travel scammers offer their victims heavily discounted travel packages or “free” vacations with hidden fees they conveniently forget to mention. Fraudsters may collect payments for such packages and then disappear. However, some travel scams appear tied to registered travel agencies with deceitful business practices. Such agencies misrepresent the features included in their cheap travel plans and only tell vacationers about the extra costs on their way to their destinations or when they get there. They may book vacationers in seedy motels claiming the luxury hotels they promised are overbook or fail to mention to tourists that tours are not included in the plans they bought.
To avoid a travel scam, make sure to read the fineprints of any travel package, especially discounted ones, before you sign up and pay for it. Go online to research the caller selling the package as well as the travel agency behind it. A quick phone number lookup can turn up useful information about the caller and help you decide whether they are a scammer or a legitimate travel agent.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
These are unwanted and unsolicited calls sent out to large numbers of phone users. While they are similar, robocalls are usually automated phone calls placed by auto-dialers while spam calls may be placed by actual humans working for telemarketers. Furthermore, robocalls deliver pre-recorded messages usually recorded with voice synthesizers while spam calls deliver similar messages handed to callers as prepared scripts.
When they were first introduced, robocalls were predominantly used by telemarketers, political campaigns, and organizations sending out public service announcements. They were low-cost mass communication tools that were easy to set up and deploy. These are also the reasons scammers use robocalls to find new targets for their fraudulent schemes. With American phone users receiving increasing amounts of robocalls and spam calls from scammers and dubious telemarketers, cutting down on these unwanted calls is an effective way of avoiding phone scams. Residents of Madera County trying to stop or reduce the number of robocalls they receive should consider the following actions:
- Do not pick calls from numbers you do not recognize. Let such calls go to voicemail where you can review them and decide which ones to return
- Hang up as soon as you realize you picked a robocall or spam call
- Disregard instructions given during robocalls and spam calls on how to remove your number from the callers’ lists. Following such prompts will only lead to more unsolicited calls
- Use the call filtering feature of your phone to block calls from some or all unknown numbers. You can also ask your carrier for call blocking services or install reputable call blocking apps from your phone’s app store
- Identify unknown callers with phone number lookup searches. The information gathered from such searches can help you unmask scammers, spammers, and stalkers. You can include their identities in reports submitted to law enforcement
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry to stop receiving telemarketing calls. Note that scammers and dubious telemarketers do not follow FTC rules about not calling numbers on the list. You can disregard or report illegal robocalls and spam calls received after your number has spent 31 days on this registry
How to Spot and Report Madera County Phone Scams?
Avoiding phone scams requires knowing how these telephone frauds progress. Residents of Madera County hoping to avoid phone scams must learn about signs to look out for in addition to knowing how scammers operate. When on an unsolicited call with a stranger, watch out for the following red flags:
- Request for payment via unofficial channels - public and private organizations do not ask for payments sent directly to their employees. Anyone requesting payment for a fine, outstanding utility bill, overdue tax, or charity donation in cash or with a prepaid debit card, gift card, wire transfer, Venmo transfer or cryptocurrency, is a scammer
- Request for information they should already have - be wary of strangers requesting personal identity and financial information. These are confidential records. If the caller asking for such pieces of information really works for a government agency, bank, or credit card company, they would already have these pieces of information and would not need you to give them
- Use of threat to obtain compliance - scammers impersonating authority figures resort to threats when their victims are reluctant to accede to their demands. They threaten their victims with immediate arrest, prosecution, deportation, or loss of their homes or licenses
- Use of aggressive sales tactics to close a deal - scammers selling bogus business, investment, and vacation offers pressure their targets to act immediately and sign up. They may claim the huge discounts or high-yield investments they are offering are only available for a limited time
- Refusal to provide backing documents - when asked, scammers fail or refuse to provide written documentation supporting their claims and identities. Rather, they will give their targets testimonials they cannot confirm
If any of these signs make you suspicious of a strange caller, dig deeper by searching them with a suspicious phone number lookup. The information garnered during this search will help law enforcement find, arrest, and prosecute the scammer. Scam reports are also important because they improve public awareness of phone scams. Residents of Madera County can report phone scams to the following authorities:
- The Madera County District Attorney - as the chief law enforcement official in the county, the DA prosecutes all crimes in the county including phone scams. Report a consumer or telephone fraud to the DA’s office by calling (559) 675-7726 or sending an email to MaderaDA@maderacounty.com
- The Office of the Attorney General, State of California - the Attorney General’s Office protects consumers in California from consumer scams. Residents of Madera County can report such scams to the AG by completing and submitting the consumer complaint against a business webform. For a detailed list of agencies to contact to submit specific consumer scam complaints, consult the AG’s Complaint Referral Table
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - the FTC is the federal consumer protection tasked with protecting American consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices. It investigates fraudulent activities involving consumer transactions. Residents of Madera County can report phone scams involving such transactions to the FTC by calling (877) 382-4357 or filing fraud complaints online
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - the FCC regulates all communication and also regulates providers of telecommunication services. It operates and enforces the National Do Not Call Registry and punishes those found violating its rules. Madera County residents can report illegal robocalls, spam calls, phishing, caller ID spoofing, and other misuse of phone tools and services to the FCC. They can report these and phone scams to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center