What are Orange County Area Codes?
Area codes refer to the first three digits at the beginning of American telephone numbers. Area codes were established by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) and identify numbering plan areas (NPAs) within states. In the State of California, the Public Utility Commission (CPUC) handles the implementation and maintenance of area codes.
There are four area codes currently in use in Orange County. These area codes cover all of Orange County and parts of the surrounding counties.
Area Code 714
Area code 714 is a California telephone area code in the NANP covering northern Orange County and portions of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. It split off from area code 213 in 1951. Cities in Orange County under this NPA include Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, and La Habra.
Area Code 657
Area code 657 is the telephone overlay code in the NANP for the 714 numbering plan area and entered service in 2008. Some cities in Orange County covered by this area code are Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Tustin, Villa Park, and Yorba Linda.
Area Code 562
Area code 562 is a NANP telephone area code for California that covers parts of northern Orange County. It also includes much of southeastern Los Angeles County. It split from area code 310 in 1997. Cities in Orange County, under this NPA, are Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach, and Sunset Beach.
Area Code 949
Area code 949 is a California telephone area code in the NANP that serves southern Orange County. It also includes a small area of San Diego County. It split from area code 714 in 1998. Cities under this NPA include Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Newport Beach, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Orange County?
As with the rest of California, cell phones have become the dominant means of telecommunication in Orange County. According to a 2018 survey by the CDC, adults who used only wireless telephony services accounted for 55.4% of the adult population in California. Adults who used only landlines made up only 3.3% of the adult population. Among children (under 18 years), those who used wireless-only services made up 63.5% of that population, and landline-only users represented only 1.8%.
All four major phone carriers provide service in Orange County, though with varying coverage levels, as do a variety of MVNOs. MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) are operators that utilize the major carriers’ infrastructure to offer telephony services. MVNOs provide cheaper rates, but the scope of their services is limited as they do not own network infrastructure. Phone service is usually better in the cities than in the mountainous and coastal regions. Within the major cities, such as Santa Ana and Anaheim, Verizon offers the best service, followed by AT&T, and then T-Mobile and Sprint.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that delivers telephony services over a computer network, usually the internet. Advances in internet technologies make VoIP a bonafide option for telephony services for both business and home users. Numerous companies offer Orange County residents various VoIP products and services at competitive rates.
What are Orange County Phone Scams?
Orange County phone scams are duplicitous acts perpetrated against Orange County residents, using telephony services. Phone scams aim to obtain money or confidential information by fraudulent means. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) provides information about scams and ways to combat them. Orange County residents, who have been victims of scams, should file reports with the OCSD by calling (714) 647-7000 or (949) 770-6011. Some common scams committed in Orange County, include:
What are Text Phishing Scams?
These scams target disability benefits applicants and beneficiaries. Scammers send text messages informing them of alerts on their applications or benefits and provide phone numbers for them to call. A person claiming to be an official of the Social Security Administration (SSA) answers the call and requests personal information. Persons who provide this information have their identities stolen. The SSA does not send unsolicited text messages and warns residents not to provide personal information to unverified persons. The Office of the Inspector General offers information about social security scams. Victims of these scams can file reports online or call 1-(800)-269-0271. Phone number lookup services can identify the persons behind these messages and determine whether the calls are from legitimate sources.
What are Tax Scams?
In a tax scam, the scammer calls or leaves a message notifying you of unpaid taxes. The scammer will demand immediate payment and coerce you with threats of an audit, deportation, or arrest. They will also insist that payment is made with a prepaid debit card, which you should obtain and provide them with the card information. In most instances, if you refuse to comply, a second caller claiming to be a Sheriff’s Deputy will call and threaten to arrest you unless you pay up. You should know that the IRS or other tax agencies will never ask for payments by pre-paid cards over the phone. Ignore all requests from such calls and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General on 1-(800)-366-4484. You can also call the OCSD to verify whether an actual Sheriff’s employee contacted you. A reverse phone search application may be able to authenticate these messages and calls.
What are Utility Scams?
These scams are similar to tax scams in their premise. The scammer calls or leaves messages threatening to cut off your gas or power unless you pay for bogus utility debts. They will also request you use prepaid debit cards to make the payment and provide them with the card information. You may also receive another call from an individual claiming to be from the Sheriff’s Department, threatening arrest if you do not comply. If the caller is insisting on a particular form of payment, this is most likely a scam. End the call and contact your utility provider to ascertain if you owe them. The OCSD does not work in conjunction with utility companies to collect debts, so if you receive such a second call claiming to be from the Sheriff’s Department, it is a scam. Reverse phone number lookup services can identify if such calls are from real utility companies.
What are Bench Warrant Scams?
Perpetrators of these scams call residents and identify themselves as employees of the OCSD or Court. They inform the receivers of bench warrants issued against them for a variety of reasons such as unpaid tickets or missed jury duty. They typically spoof Caller IDs to display the names or numbers of these agencies. They then state that the warrants can be resolved if certain payments are made. They always request specific forms of payments, such as prepaid debit cards and direct wire transfers.
Note that the OCSD will not demand payment for warrants over the phone. The Court that issued the order handles warrant payments and does not specify how payments should be made. If you receive such calls, hang up and call the OCSD or contact the Court directly to make inquiries about outstanding warrants. Even though scammers can spoof the Caller IDs of these agencies, reverse phone number lookups can shed some light on the legitimacy of such calls.
What are Robocall and Spam Calls?
Automated phone calls set to convey pre-recorded messages are known as robocalls. Robocalls are typically used by entities that wish to reach out to several people simultaneously, such as telemarketers, political campaigns, and non-profit organizations. Due to this ability, and the fact they are practically anonymous, scammers have adopted robocalls as a tool. Robocalls enable scammers to target multiple residents while claiming to be legitimate entities that typically use them. This makes it simpler for scammers to solicit information or money from unsuspecting residents. A free reverse phone lookup service can identify if an incoming call is a robocall.
Your best options for dealing with robocalls are:
- End the robocall once you realize what it is. Do not follow any prompts to remove your number from the call list as these just confirm your number and lead to more robocalls.
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. After your phone number has been on this registry for 31 days, it is exempted from receiving calls from telemarketers and businesses offering sales. While this will not stop all unwanted calls, it makes it easier to identify illegal calls and scammers using robocalls.
- Ask your phone company about the procedures for blocking calls from unwanted phone numbers.
- Use public websites offering phone number lookups free to verify robocall numbers and block them.
- Report illegal robocalls to the FTC online or by calling 1 (888) 382-1222.
The FTC website provides consumer information on blocking unwanted calls on any platform.
How to Spot and Report Orange County Phone Scams?
Scammers continuously find new ways to steal financial and identity information from consumers. Questions such as “who is this number registered to?” and “who called me?” can be answered with reverse phone number lookup applications. However, the most proven means of combating scammers remains education and awareness. You can tell a phone call is a scam if:
- The caller repeatedly solicits your private information. If you did not initiate a phone call and the caller insists you provide confidential information, it is likely a scam.
- The caller gets aggressive and issues threats of audits, fines, and arrest to get you to comply with their requests. Legitimate organizations will not threaten you to obtain your information.
- The caller asks you to make payment by specific means, such as prepaid card or wire transfer. Legitimate organizations do not care how you make payments. A caller who insists on informal or untraceable forms of payment is a scammer.
- The caller informs you of free prize or winnings or offers a free service or product. However, before you receive it, you have to pay a fee for processing and taxes. If advertised as free but you have to pay to receive it, it is a scam.
Numerous online services conduct phone number searches by names, numbers, and addresses free as well as for a fee. Knowing how to use these tools will prove useful in combating phone scams. Government agencies offer residents of Orange County invaluable assistance in the fight against phone scammers. These agencies are:
Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) - The OCSD informs residents about scams widespread in Orange County. Residents of Orange County should call (714) 647-7000 or (949) 770-6011 to report scams or suspicious phone calls to the OCSD.
Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) - The Consumer Protection Unit of the OCDA receives and reviews complaints about scams and other deceptive practices that affect consumers. If you have been a victim or have information about such practices, file a consumer complaint with the OCDA.
Better Business Bureau - The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports on business firms and other commercial organizations. Information from the BBB is helpful and aids residents in distinguishing between legitimate and fraudulent entities.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - The FCC is the federal authority that regulates interstate and international communications. They also protect consumers from illegal robocalls and phone spoofing scams. Consumers can find tips on stopping unwanted robocalls and avoid phone scams on the FCC website. Victims of robocall or phone spoofing scams can file complaints with the FCC.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - The FTC protects consumers in the U.S. from deceptive and unfair practices. Its National Do Not Call Registry serves to protect consumers from unwanted calls from telemarketers and businesses. If you still receive unsolicited calls after adding your number to the registry, it is more likely these are scam calls. The FTC also provides tips on call-blocking, a useful tool against phone scammers. Report cases of illegal robocalls and other deceptive practices to the FTC online or by calling 1 (888) 382-1222.