There are three area codes serving the residents of Santa Cruz County. These are area codes 408, 669, and 831. Area codes are numeric designations for NPAs (numbering plan areas). The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) established in 1947 divided North America into NPAs and assigned area codes for them. There were originally 86 area codes in the United States and each defined an area covering a state or multiple communities grouped together in the telephone exchange. NPAs and area codes make routing long-distance calls easier across North American telephone exchanges. Prior to their creation, there were different handover systems used by telephone exchanges and companies.
An area code is easily identified as the first three digits in a 10-digit phone number issued in the United States.
Area Code 408
Area code 408 was put into service in 1959 after a split plan was enacted on area code 415, one of the original 86 area codes created in the country in 1947. As a split area code, 408 covered most of Santa Clara County and northern Santa Cruz County. Communities in Santa Cruz County served by area code 408 include Watsonville and Zayante.
Area Code 669
Created in November 2012 in an overlay pla, area code 669 overlays area code 408. Therefore, it serves the same NPA and the same communities covered by area code 408. Area code 669 opened up more phone numbers in the San Francisco Bay Area as area code 408 neared exhaustion.
Area Code 831
While it covers only a small part of California, area code 831 serves most of the communities in Santa Cruz County. It came into service in 1998 in a split plan of area code 408. Cities in Santa Cruz County served by this split code include Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and Watsonville. Other communities in this NPA include Amesti, Aptos, Brookdale, Corralitos, Davenport, and Twin Lakes.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Santa Cruz County?
Wireless phone users are in the majority in California and Santa Cruz County as most residents switch away from landline phone services. A 2018 wireless substitution survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 55.4% of adults in California only used wireless phones for telecommunication. In contrast, only 3.3% of adults in the state relied solely on landline phones. The figure for landline-only users for minors in the state is a paltry 1.8%. On the other hand, 63.5% of residents in the demographic only use wireless phone services.
Residents of Santa Cruz County enjoy wireless phone services provided by AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Among these major carriers, Verizon has the most extensive network in California. Its signal covers 77% of the state while AT&T provides phone service in 76% of California. T-Mobile offers phone services to residents in 72.7% of the state and Sprint is only available in 39.6% of California.
Besides these major carriers, MVNOs also provide phone services in Santa Cruz County. Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs are small carriers that rely on the network infrastructure of big carriers to offer phone plans. They buy network services in bulk from the major carriers and offer them in bundles that are attractive to local residents. These regional carriers pass some of the savings of purchasing bulk phone services to their subscribers.
VoIP service providers make up a third option for phone users in Santa Cruz County. VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is a telecommunication technology that transmits voice messages over the internet as data packets. It relies on broadband internet access and is cost-effective for users that already have high-speed internet at home or work. VoIP phone services are more affordable than landline and mobile phones for long-distance calls and they make telecommuting possible for those working from home.
What are Santa Cruz County Phone Scams?
Santa Cruz County phone scams are fraudulent activities conducted using phone tools and services with the aim of defrauding residents of the county. Reported incidences of phone scams keep growing every year as certain phone tools make it easier for scammers to target phone users. Tools and services like caller ID spoofing and VoIP calls make it possible for scammers in other countries to target residents of Santa Cruz County while impersonating organizations in the US. Robocalls and spam calls also allow scammers to spend less and target a wider pool of phone users.
Not all phone tools and services are helpful to scammers. Some make it easier to identify and block them. For example, reverse phone lookup services help residents and law enforcement find individuals registered to the unknown phone numbers used for phone scams. These services pull information from carrier databases to find identifying information about strangers calling with unknown numbers.
In addition to using tools such as these for foiling scam attempts, Santa Cruz County residents should also know the types of phone scams that are common where they live. The California Attorney General’s Office publishes a regularly updated summary of common phone scams in California. These include charity scams, tax scams, seniors scams, tech support scams.
What are Santa Cruz County Charity Scams?
Scammers exploit natural disasters and moments when real charities call for donations to run charity frauds. They may pretend to represent actual charities or solicit donations in the name of fake charities. Usually, these fraudsters give their fake charities names that sound similar to real and well-known charities. The Office of the Attorney General warns Californians to be wary of strangers calling to ask for donations. Santa Cruz County residents can check the registration status of charities on the Attorney General’s website.
Before making a donation to a stranger calling on behalf of a charity, run the phone number used through a phone lookup search to determine that it really belongs to the charity referenced. Confirm that this charity is real and registered. Also ask for written materials and ask questions about the percentage of donations reaching the victims of disaster. Do not be hurried to donate money immediately and never provide strangers with personal and confidential information such as checking account and credit card details.
What are Santa Cruz County Tax Scams?
These are common during the annual tax season when residents expect correspondence from the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board. Scammers impersonate officers of these agencies when calling their victims and demand that they pay back taxes they owe. They threaten their victims with arrest, jail term, deportation, and loss of driver’s license or business license. They usually ask for payment via prepaid debit card and wire transfer.
Tax scammers do some research on their victims. To appear legitimate, they use caller ID spoofing so their calls appear on victims’ phones as coming from taxing authorities. They may even provide some digits of their victims’ social security numbers to convince them that they are real. Other tax scammers offer to help their victims to prepare their taxes only to collect huge fees and disappear. Another tax scam involves fraudsters calling their victims to tell them they are due for tax refunds. They ask for confidential information from them claiming to require these to confirm identities and process refunds. These scammers steal their victims’ confidential records and sue these for identity theft and make huge purchases on their credit cards.
Reverse phone lookup services can help identify unknown callers claiming to be agents of taxing agencies. Sophisticated scams involve caller ID spoofing requires vigilance on the part of targets and knowing how real taxing authorities work.
What are Santa Cruz County Seniors Scams?
Scam artists target seniors because they believe the elderly are more trusting, have significant savings available, are easy to scare, and are often confused. Scams directly at elderly residents include grandparent scams where fraudsters pretend to be their victims’ grandkids and ask for money to cover certain emergencies. Medicare and health discount scams also mostly target seniors as people in this age group are most likely to have medical insurance and need regular medical care.Other types of seniors scams include investment scams, reverse mortgage scams, and lottery scams.
Scammers targeting elderly residents are usually sloppy because they believe their victims are easy targets. Reverse phone lookup services can easily help targets discover that the strangers calling them with offers are fraudsters. Law enforcement advises elderly residents to speak with their relatives before sending money or providing information over the phone to strangers.
What are Santa Cruz County Tech Support Scams?
Scammers pretending to be tech support usually claim that they are representatives of big tech companies like Microsoft and Google. They claim to be calling to help their targets fix their slow computers or remove viruses. They usually ask for remote access to their targets’ computers or send them malicious links to click or software to download. A tech support scammer may bill their victim for unneeded repairs for made-up problems or trick them into buying useless antivirus software. They may also steal the victim’s credit card information. When granted remote access, the scammer may steal passwords from their victim’s computer or install malware that will cause real damage.
Santa Cruz County residents should know that tech firms do not call their victims to provide unrequested support. Anyone calling with such an offer should be questioned closely. Run a suspicious phone number lookup on the unknown number used to confirm that it is not listed for the tech firm the caller claims to represent. Do not provide remote access to your computer to strangers and do not give out your credit card detail to tech support over the phone.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are automated phone calls that deliver pre-recorded messages to large numbers of people. These calls are usually made by auto-dialers and require little input from human operators. Telemarketers and political campaigns use robocalls to deliver their messages to large groups. Government agencies and emergency services use robocalls to deliver public service announcements to the populace.
The ease of contacting large swaths of people and the little effort required make robocalls appealing to phone scammers. With this tool, they can cast a wider net for targets and increase their chances of success. Scammers and dubious telemarketers also use spam calls to find victims for their frauds. Spam calls are also bulk calls delivering pre-recorded messages.
Residents of Santa Cruz County trying to reduce the number of unwanted robocalls and spam calls received should following these steps:
- End a robocall or spam call as soon as you realize you are on one
- Do not follow any prompt given during such calls. These unwanted calls may ask you to press certain key combinations to remove your number from their call lists. This is a trick to confirm that your number is active and available to receive more unwanted calls
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Doing so indicates to legitimate telemarketers that you do not want to be contacted. Robocalls and spam calls received after 31 days of adding your number to this registry are most likely from scammers
- Use the call blocking feature on your phone to block calls from certain numbers or all unknown numbers. There are also reputable third-party apps that provide this feature. You can also ask your carrier if this feature is available
How to Spot and Report Santa Cruz County Phone Scams
To spot a phone scam, you must be aware of the tactics used. Santa Cruz County residents should read phone scam resources provided by the California Attorney General’s Office to learn about common scams in the state. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also provides helpful resources about phone scams.
Awareness is only one part of the fight against phone frauds. Tools like call blocking and reverse phone lookup also help residents and law enforcement find and stop phone scammers. While these fraudsters keep evolving new tactics, these are just variations of the same old tricks. Some key red flags to look out for when trying to determine whether a stranger is a phone scam include:
- Bad English and foreign accent - an increasingly number of phone scammers live outside the US and use VoIP phone services to obtain US phone numbers
- Rude and threatening - scammers try to scare their targets and obtain compliance by impersonating authority figures and threatening victims with ludicrous consequences
- Demanding payment via non-official channels - cash, prepaid debit cards, gift cards, cryptocurrency, and wire transfer are the preferred payment methods of scammers. Payments made via these channels are hard to trace and often irreversible
- Inability to clearly explain their offers - scammers often cannot provide great details about the investment, travel, business, and sales offers they are peddling
- Requesting confidential information - scammers impersonating government agencies and private organizations often request details these entities already have on record
Whether successful or not, phone scams should be reported to the relevant authorities. This makes it possible to find and prosecute scammers. Reporting also increases public knowledge about how phone scammers operate. Residents of Santa Cruz County can report phone scams to the following agencies:
- Consumer Fraud and Environmental Protection Unit of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office - this county agency investigates and prosecutes consumer fraud. Call (831) 454-2050 or use the Online Complaint Form to report a phone scam that occured in the county
- The Office of the Attorney General - California’s chief law officer accepts reports of frauds committed by businesses. Residents can submit complaints against companies and businesses online
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - this is the federal consumer protection agencies. Residents can complain about deceptive business practices committed by businesses of all sizes, charities, and investment groups by submitting their fraud complaints to the FTC onlineThe
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - this federal agency regulates communication services in the country as well as investigates and prosecutes scams committed using phone tools and services. Santa Cruz County residents can report fraudsters employing illegal robocalls, spam calls, caller ID spoofing, and voice phishing to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center