Area code is a three-digit number that identifies the different Numbering Plan Areas in North America. It is represented by the numeric prefix at the beginning of American phone numbers and established by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) in 1947 to facilitate long-distance calls. The Public Service Commission in Georgia oversees and regulates area codes in the state.
Columbia County operates two area codes. These are:
Area code 706
Area code 706 was split from area code 404 and officially launched into service in 1992. It has area code 762 as an overlay. The communities and cities in Columbia County under the coverage of this area code include Lagrange, Athens, Augusta, Dalton, Martinez, Rome.
Area Code 762
Area code 762 was officially commissioned in May 2006. It was introduced as an overlay code for the 706 NPA, and it covers the same cities under the coverage of area code 706.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Columbia County?
About 59.0% of the adult residents in Georgia used wireless-only telephones, according to a 2018 survey released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The survey also revealed that only about 3.5% of the adult population used landlines only. For residents under the age of 18, an estimated 69.2% preferred wireless-only telephony services compared to about 2.7% who exclusively used landlines. The results of this survey suggest the dominance of wireless-only telephony services for telecommunications in Columbia County.
The four major phone network carriers offer the best cell phone plans in Columbia County. By coverage, AT&T ranks as the best among the four, providing a near-perfect 98% network penetration. Verizon covers about 88% of the county, making it the second-best network. T-Mobile ranks third with about 70% spread, while Sprint covers the least percentage of 62%.
Columbia County residents also use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for telecommunications. VoIP uses broadband internet connections instead of regular phone lines for phone calls. VoIP calls require specialized VoIP phones or computers. Alternatively, VoIP calls can be made via a landline phone connected to a special adapter for VoIP.
What are Columbia County Phone Scams?
Columbia County phone scams involve the fraudulent use of telephone services to dupe residents of the county. Phone scams aim to obtain sensitive information such as Social Security Number or debit card details from the call recipients. Scammers then use the information to carry out fraudulent activities such as identity theft or financial scams.
To avoid getting scammed or remedy a scam situation, residents may file their reports or complaints to the appropriate law enforcement agencies within and around the county. A free phone number lookup by name may assist residents in verifying the identity of the fraudsters. Some phone scams commonly reported by Columbia county residents are:
What are Columbia County Jury Duty Scams?
Scammers introduce themselves to their targets as officials of law enforcement agencies such as the Sheriff's Office, or the U.S Marshals Service. They claim that the target has missed jury duty and is in danger of an arrest. The caller requests a fine or a fee from the target to avert the arrest, often via gift cards or prepaid debit cards. To make the recipients believe that the call is genuine, the scammers may ask to confirm their personal information such as names, address, date of birth, and social security numbers. Doing this enables the scammers to obtain the information for fraudulent uses such as identity theft. Scammers may also spoof their targets’ Caller IDs to appear as legitimate law enforcement agencies' phone numbers. According to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, one of the most successful phone scam strategies in the county is the jury duty scam.
Residents are advised to avoid such calls claiming to penalize jury duty defaulters over the phone. The County Sheriff noted that courthouses send authentic jury duty notices via mail and may only contact people by phone when attempts to mail them fail. Residents are advised to contact courthouses via their official phone numbers to verify any jury duty claim. Reverse phone lookup services may also help identify the real identities of such callers and prevent residents from getting scammed.
What are Columbia County IRS Telephone Scams?
Scammers impersonate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials to steal personal identity information or money from unwary Columbia County residents. These callers may employ phone spoofing to alter the Caller ID displayed on the recipient's phone to appear more authentic. Sometimes, the scammers may claim that targets owe taxes and may face legal consequences if they do not pay immediately. They often threaten them with legal actions such as license revocation, arrest, or deportation. This type of scam mainly targets Columbia County residents who are not well informed about IRS operations, such as new immigrants and old-aged residents. The scammers may also call residents to claim that they are entitled to tax refunds. Such callers request sensitive information from their targets, such as account details and social security numbers, claiming to verify the targets’ identities. They may also demand a fee to process the refunds. To convince residents, the caller may identify themselves with the names of familiar IRS officials or use fake names and badges.
The Sheriff advises residents not to disclose any confidential information via electronic communication means such as phone calls, e-mails, text messages, or social media channels. Residents need to note that the IRS does not request such information over phone calls. Also, the IRS does not threaten residents with legal actions. Residents who suspect such fraudulent activities can use reverse phone lookup services to ascertain the persons behind the phone calls. If a resident owes taxes, they may contact the IRS to verify the details of their debt and legitimate payment options. Residents can also file IRS scam complaints via the agency’s fraud report portal.
What are Columbia County Telemarketing Scams?
Scammers pose as telemarketers to defraud unsuspecting Columbia County residents of money and obtain confidential information intended for fraudulent activities. These fraudsters call to entice their targets with highly profitable investment opportunities, usually with very little or no risks. They may also claim that the targets have won prizes but must claim them with a certain processing fee. The scammers insist on immediate payments via payment channels that are more difficult to trace, such as gift cards, crypto, and wire transfers. Residents who fall victims to these schemes end up discovering that the offers or the prizes never existed.
These scammers may alter their targets’ Caller IDs to disguise their phone numbers as legitimate telemarketing organizations. They may also ask specific questions to manipulate their targets into disclosing confidential information. According to the Consumer Protection Division of Georgia Department of Law, residents are advised to report suspected phone frauds to the appropriate law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Residents may also engage reverse phone lookup services to identify fraudulent callers. A phone number search application can help scam targets in finding out valuable information on scammers.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are phone calls initiated by computerized auto-dialers to convey preset messages to multiple call recipients simultaneously. Although scammers leverage this technology to dupe residents, robocalls are also commonly used for other legitimate purposes such as political campaigns, telemarketing sales, public announcements, and charity donation solicitation. Call recipients can respond to robocalls via directed inputs or preset input selection codes. Scammers leverage this feedback system of robocalls as a means of obtaining sensitive information from unsuspecting victims.
Spam calls are unwanted and unauthorized phone calls. Phone calls may also be considered spam if they are incessant and irrelevant to the recipients. Not all spam calls are harmful as they may come from telemarketers carrying out advertisement activities. However, scammers also defraud their targets using spam calls, especially through robocalls. Over 4 million spam calls were reported to the FTC in 2019, and 70% of these turned out to be robocalls. To avoid getting scammed by robocalls, residents may perform reverse cell phone lookups to determine if incoming calls are robocalls.
To prevent and combat robocall scams in Columbia County, there are specific precautions residents may take. These include:
- Hang up once you discover a phone call is a robocall. A robocall may request to transfer the call to a live representative at some point. Do not yield to such requests as they may lead to more robocalls.
- As recommended by the FTC, avoid getting robocalls by blocking unwanted calls. Traditional landline users may purchase and install a call blocking device and attach it to the phones. For mobile phone users, mobile apps with call-blocking features are available for download at Play Store for Android users and Apple Store for iOS users.
- Enroll your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Although the registry may not stop all robocalls, it helps minimize the number of unsolicited phone calls placed to registered numbers.
- File a report or register a complaint to the appropriate law enforcement agencies in case of a suspected scam. The FTC provides a Fraud Report portal to enable residents to report scam cases. Provide the details of the phone numbers to facilitate proper examination.
- Use reverse phone number lookup applications to figure out if incoming calls are robocalls to avoid scams.
How Can You Spot and Report Columbia County Phone Scams?
To identify phone scams, residents of Columbia County are advised to stay up-to-date with information on the common phone scams in the county. Over time, phone scammers have advanced their schemes and tactics as telephone communication technologies advance. The government and security agencies provide guidelines on how to spot these tactics. Phone scam victims are also encouraged to report such incidents to the appropriate agencies. Common signs that suggest that a phone call is intended for a scam include:
- Scammers mostly request payments with a high sense of urgency. They may also claim that failure to pay promptly attracts severe consequences.
- Callers who request confidential information such as debit card details or personal identifying information are most likely scammers. Note that legitimate organizations do not make such sensitive requests over the phone.
- Alteration of caller ID information via phone spoofing suggests that a caller might be fraudulent. To unveil the true identities of unknown callers, residents may use good reverse phone lookup services.
- Attempts to obtain compliance through threats of legal actions such as fines, deportation, license revocation, and arrest signify potential fraud.
- When a caller insists on specific payment systems such as gift cards or wire transfers for immediate payments, it is likely a scam. Legitimate organizations provide viable and traceable payment options and do not mandate users to pay through specific methods.
- Phone scammers may also warn call recipients not to disclose the details of the call to any other party. This is a sign that a call is probably fraudulent.
It is the responsibility of certain government bodies and law enforcement agencies to protect residents from phone scams. This can be achieved by providing residents with information and assistance on scam-related issues. Such agencies include:
Georgia Department of Law's Consumer Protection Division - The Consumer Protection Division keeps the county residents updated with information on phone scams. In a program tagged Slam the Scam, the Division provides guidelines on avoiding phone scams.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) - Residents may find valid information about registered businesses in the county from the BBB’s website. This comes in handy when there is a need to confirm the identity of callers who claim to be with registered businesses. The online Scam Tracker provided by the BBB offers a platform for residents to file scam reports.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - Residents may limit the number of unwanted calls they receive by registering their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Phone scam incidents can be filed with the FTC online.