What are Merced County Area Codes?
Deriving its name from the Merced River, Merced County is located in the central part of the State of California. Merced City doubles as the county's largest city and county seat. As of July 1, 2019, the estimated population of the county was put at 277,680 by the United States Census Bureau.
The area code system was developed by AT&T and Bell Laboratories in the 1940s. It was tagged the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) and went into effect in 1947. The system created area codes - three-digit prefixes put in front of telephone numbers which indicates the geographical area associated with telephone numbers. Area codes helped automate calls to different geographical areas without the need for human operators. You can find the area code of an area in the United States by using an area code lookup tool online. There is currently only one area code serving Merced County.
Area Code 209
Area code 209 was created from area code 916 and was first used on January 1, 1958. It was also split in 1998 to form area code 559. It is the only area code serving Stockton, Modesto, Tracy, Merced, and Turlock Cities. Other cities served by area code 209 include Manteca, Lodi, Ceres, Los Banos, Atwater, and Galt.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Merced County?
Network coverage varies across Merced County, hence, a key factor in deciding on a cell phone plan is finding a carrier that offers the best coverage in the county. Most persons have experienced the frustrating experience of bad connections, so it is important to avoid such experiences by carefully considering each carrier's coverage status. Residents of Merced County will be able to choose from multi-line family plans, single post-paid lines, or prepaid options that present no long-term contractual or device financing requirements.
In the county seat of Merced, AT&T has the best coverage with a relative score of 90 compared to other major carriers. T-Mobile has a score of 88%, Verizon has 82%, while Sprint's score is rated at 76%. Merced County residents can also purchase cell phone plans from smaller prepaid carriers called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). These smaller carriers usually operate on one of the four major carriers and resell services to no-commitment customers.
Recently, VoIP has become a popular choice of telephony service among residents due to affordable pricing. VoIP refers to Voice over Internet Protocol, and by transforming a voice into a digital signal, is capable of transmitting telephone calls over the internet. By choosing a VoIP service in Merced County, residents can use the service in any location that has a broadband internet connection.
A recent survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2018 revealed that wireless telephony use in California has supplanted the use of landline or wired telephony service among residents. The survey shows that among persons above the age of 18 in California, 55.4% used wireless telephony service exclusively, while only 3.3% used landline-only telephony service. Among persons below the age of 18, 63.5% used wireless-only telephony, while only 1.8% used landline-only telephony service.
What are Merced County Phone Scams?
Merced County phone scams are fraudulent practices of crooked persons carried out through phone calls aimed at fleecing unsuspecting Merced County residents. Scammers use devious tricks and cons to lure residents into giving away sensitive information and fraudulently obtain money. Reverse phone lookups can help residents identify phone scammers to help limit the odds of falling victim to phone scams. Common phone scams in Merced County include COVID-19 scams, jury duty scams, Social Security Scams, and can you hear me scams. Merced County residents can use phone lookup applications to help unmask the real identities of phone scammers.
What are Merced County Jury Duty Scams?
In a jury duty scam, the scammer claims to be a Sergeant or other employee of the Merced County Sheriff's Office and informs the target of an outstanding arrest warrant. According to the scammer, the warrant is due to missing a court summons or scheduled jury duty. To avoid associated consequences, the target is asked to call a phone number. Once the target calls the number, the scammer asks the target to provide personal information and perform tasks like buying gift cards, credit cards, and things of that nature. This purchase is typically at a local store. The target is required to stay on the phone for the duration of the conversation while the purchase of the card is made at the store. After the purchase, the victim is required to read the number of the card to the caller on the phone. To help verify that callers are who they say they are, you can use good reverse phone lookup tools online to quickly do a number lookup or reverse number lookup.
What are Merced County Social Security Scams?
In a social security scam, the caller claims to be an employee of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and alleges that your Social Security number has been flagged for fraudulent activity. The caller may also claim that to want to issue you additional funds or rebate or allege that your personal information has been lost due to a computer glitch. Social security scammers may even spoof the number of SSA or reputable government agencies to appear real to you. These fraudsters claim that victims need to provide their Social Security numbers to access issued funds or rebates or to fix the problem on their accounts. Once you provide your information, it will be later used in identity theft. You can use free reverse phone lookup tools to verify the identity of the person behind a call.
What are Merced County Can You Hear Me Scams?
If you receive an unsolicited call and you hear "can you hear me okay?", you may have been targeted in a can you hear me scam. The scam begins with an innocent and friendly voice acting like there is a problem with the phone call. The caller aims to get you to say the word "yes". An "okay" is even good enough in most instances. Once the caller gets the word recorded, the scammer will call back claiming you owe money on products or services you did not buy. If you deny it, the scammer will play back your voice as evidence that you agreed. The scammer then demands that you pay up via wire transfer, gift card, money order, cash in the mail, or cryptocurrency. A phone lookup service can help determine if an incoming call is associated with a scam or scammer.
What are Merced County COVID-19 Scams?
Merced County officials have reported cases of persons posing as clinic workers contacting Merced County residents offering COVID-19 vaccine shots for fees ranging between $50 and $150. According to the reports, after making the required payments, victims were often referred to vaccination clinics where no appointments exist to receive vaccine shots. Many of the victims were asked to make payments by prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers.
Note that there is no cost associated with getting the coronavirus vaccine, regardless of whether you obtain it from a county, a hospital, or other entity. However, there might be some administrative fees charged to health insurance, but no fees are required to get an appointment. You can use a reverse cell phone lookup tool to verify if a caller’s identity matches the name given.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
If you pick up your phone and you hear a recorded message playing instead of a live person speaking, you have received a robocall. Robocalls are automated phone calls placed using auto-dialers which are used to deliver prerecorded messages. Except in few instances such as when used by government agencies, public entities, and political campaigners, robocall use cases are largely illegal. Pursuant to the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991, the United States placed certain restrictions on the use of automatic dialers and unsolicited automated calls to protect the privacy and public safety interests of telephone subscribers.
Although some robocalls are helpful, others are just spam calls. Spam calls are unsolicited and intrusive, forming the majority of robocalls received by Merced County residents. These spam calls are mostly fraudulent with the intention of the callers firmly on fleecing unsuspecting residents. Reverse phone number lookup can help phone users identify robocalls and avoid falling victims to robocall scams.
Merced County residents can also take the following steps to limit the scourge of robocalls:
- Hang up on robocalls. If you answer a phone call and hear a recorded message, hang up immediately.
- Use the call blocking feature on your phone: Most smartphones have in-built tools to stop spam calls. Check to see if your cell phone or carrier offers blocking tools. Next time you receive unsolicited robocalls, simply block them using your device.
- Add your number to the Do-Not-Call List: The Federal Trade Commission maintains a registry which telemarketers are required to consult before placing robocalls to phone users. Any robocall received 31 days after adding your number to the registry is likely to come from a scammer.
- Download a call-blocking app: Third-party apps help block spam calls. You can download one from any of the major mobile application stores. Examples of call-blocking apps include Nomorobo, Hiya, Truecaller, and RoboKiller.
- File a complaint: Sometimes filing a complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Communications Commission might be the best path forward. You can call the FTC at (877) 382-1222 or the FCC at (888) 225-5322.
How to Spot and Report Merced County Phone Scams?
Scams are widespread in Merced County, with new ones popping up all the time as scammers adapt to new technologies, current events, and the latest trends. While the variety of phone scams can seem endless, some common characteristics can help you recognize and avoid scams. Tools such as reverse phone number lookup services are effective in identifying potential phone scams.
Be on the lookout for these red flags:
- A demand to pay money in order to receive a prize or get a job. Do not take the bait. It is nearly impossible to win a contest or lottery that you did not enter for. Even if you applied or entered a competition, you should not have to pay to receive a prize.
- Pressure to act immediately. This is a common trick with scammers. A scammer knows that granting you the time to consider your options will reduce the odds of a scam being successful.
- Use of scare tactics. Scammers are fond of threatening to arrest, imprison, fine, or revoke their targets’ licenses if they do not pay up immediately. Reputable businesses and entities will not threaten you this way.
- Insistence that you wire money or pay by a specific payment method. Fraudsters prefer receiving payments through difficult-to-trace means such as wire transfers, gift cards, cryptocurrencies, and prepaid debit cards. If a caller insists you have to use a particular method of payment, hang up immediately.
- Receiving a check or overpayment and being asked to wire a portion of the funds back. This is typical of scammers who will send fake checks in the hope that targets will make real payments to their own accounts.
- Being asked to provide your password, PIN, Social Security number, account number, or financial information in an unsolicited call. Do not give your sensitive information to anyone over the phone. Any unsolicited caller asking for personal information is most likely a scammer.
- Get rich-quick and other promises that sound too good to be true. Most schemes that promise low investments and high returns have turned out to be false. Speak to your financial adviser and carry out proper research before investing in any scheme.
You can file complaints with any of the following public bodies if you have been contacted by a scammer:
- The Merced County Sheriff’s Office and local police departments: If you have received a call from a scammer, you can contact your local police department or the Merced County Sheriff's Office at (209) 385-7445.
- The Merced County District Attorney's Office: The Consumer Protection Division of the Merced County District Attorney's Office investigates and prosecutes unfair or dishonest practices. If you have been a victim of consumer fraud, you can file a complaint online, or use the printable PDF complaints form.
- The California Attorney General’s Office: Consumers are encouraged to report scams to the Office’s Public Inquiry Unit by calling (800) 952-5225.
- The Federal Trade Commission: If you receive unsolicited calls 31 days after adding your number to the National Do Not Call Registry, you can file a complaint online with the FTC.
- The Federal Communications Commission: The FCC allows you to file a complaint online if you believe you have received a call from a spam call, or if you think you are the victim of a phone scam.
- Social Security Administration: If you receive a scam call or you suspect you have been a victim of a scam from the Social Security Administration, report such calls by calling the Office of the Inspector General at (800) 269-0271 or make a report online.