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What are Niagara County Area Codes?

Niagara County is located in the western part of New York State, north of Buffalo and adjacent to Lake Ontario on its northern border and the Niagara River and Canada on its western border. Niagara County's primary geographic feature is Niagara Falls, which is an important source of hydroelectric power for both the United States and Canada.

Founded on March 11, 1808, Niagara County derives its name from "Onguiaahra" - an Iroquois word for "strait or thunder of waters". As of July 1, 2019, the United States Census Bureau puts the population of the county at 209,281. The largest city in the county is Niagara Falls, while Lockport City is the county seat.

AT&T and Bell Laboratories devised a plan in the 1940s to automate telephony communications. Although the plan did not quite go into effect until the 1940s, it was called the North America Numbering Plan (NANP) and included the United States and Canada. Initially, only 86 area codes were created and assigned to different geographical areas - states and provinces. As the population grew, more and more area codes were formed which were assigned to newer geographical areas.

An area code is a three-digit number that identifies one of the telephone areas into which the United States is divided and that precedes the local telephone number when dialing a call between areas. An area code is useful in identifying the origin of a phone call. and can be split to create new codes by splitting a geographical region into new, smaller regions. Typically, one region keeps the same area code, while the other region changes to a new area code. You can find the area code of an area in the United States by using area code lookup tools online.

There are currently two area codes serving Niagara County – Area code 585 and area code 716.

Area Code 585

Area code 585 was first used on November 15, 2001, and was created from area code 716. Although area code 585 is the main area code for Rochester in Monroe County, it is also used in Middleport City in Niagara County. Other cities using area code 585 include Irondequoit, Brighton, Batavia, Greece, Canandaigua, and North Gates.

Area Code 716

Area code 716 is located in western New York and covers the cities of Tonawanda, Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga, and Buffalo. It is the only area code serving these cities. Area code 716 is one of the original 86 area codes created by AT&T and the Bell System in 1947. It was split in 2001 requiring some of the phone numbers to be updated to area code 585. To avoid exhausting the unique phone numbers covered by this area code, relief planning has begun. Cities within area code 716 include Jamestown, Lackawanna, North Tonawanda, West Seneca, Kenmore, and Lockport.

What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Niagara County?

The majority of telephone plans purchased in Niagara County are cellular phone plans offered by wireless carriers. Wireless telephony adoption in the county has risen in recent years with the increase extending across the rest of New York State. According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2018, 38.8% of adults aged 18 and over residing in New York State used wireless-only telephony service, while 6.0 used landline-only telephony service. The survey estimated that among residents in the state below the age of 18, 45.9% used wireless-only telephony service, while only 2.9% used landline telephony service exclusively.

There are a lot of cell phone plans for Niagara County residents to choose from with all Major Network Carriers (MNOs) operating in the county and offering multiple choices. Hence, looking for a new cell phone plan can be overwhelming. To make the process much easier, you need to put coverage as a key issue in consideration during the decision-making process. Fortunately, the four major MNOs all offer good coverage in Niagara County. In the county seat of Lockport, Sprint has the best overall coverage with a coverage score of 94%. Verizon is the best of the rest with a coverage score of 92%. T-Mobile coverage is rated at 74%, while AT&T's score is put at 70%.

There are several other smaller carriers referred to as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) also operating in Niagara County. These carriers are wireless services providers that do not own wireless network infrastructure but instead buy network capacity from existing MNOs to offer services to their users. If coverage is strong from the parent MNO, network coverage from the associated MVNO will also be strong.

VoIP plans are also popular among wireless telephony users in Niagara County. Also known as Voice over Internet Protocol, the technology transmits telephony communications through broadband internet connections. One major benefit of using VoIP is mobility - You can use the service from any location provided a high-speed internet connection is available. Frequent travelers often benefit from using VoIP. Many traditional phone services come with a variety of restrictions, and they make it nearly impossible to change area codes. The option to change area code is an especially useful one for VoIP plan subscribers.

What are Niagara County Phone Scams?

Niagara County phone scams are illegitimate activities of fraudulent individuals aimed at fleecing county residents or obtaining sensitive personal information from them. The illegally obtained information is then used by scammers to commit frauds or identity thefts. Phone scams have been around for as long as landlines have existed. However, with the evolution of smartphones and smart technologies, nearly everyone has their device on them at virtually all times — meaning there are that many more opportunities for scammers to trick people with false claims, pleas for help, or even the promise of huge returns on investments and lottery winnings. Common phone scams in Niagara County include COVID-19 vaccine survey scams, amazon customer support scams, grandparent scams, and utility scams. Phone lookup applications can help unmask the real identities of phone scammers.

What are Niagara County Amazon Customer Support Scams?

The Amazon Customer Support Scam typically involves scammers claiming they are representatives of Amazon and requesting personal information such as Social Security numbers and bank routing numbers. In perpetrating the scam, fraudsters pose as customer support workers with Amazon and inform the targets of "suspicious activities" on their accounts. A scammer may leave a false phone number for the target to call back for help.

When the consumers respond, scammers convince the targets to log on to their computers and further tell them to visit unusual sites, enter codes or other information, make odd purchases and in some cases, allow the scammer to gain control of their computer. When that happens, the fraudster accesses bank account information, passwords, or other sensitive information, as well as install malware. You can use free reverse phone number lookup tools online to help uncover who called and find who a number is registered to.

What are Niagara County Utility Scams?

In the most rampant version of the utility scam being perpetrated in Niagara County, callers pose as employees of the National Grid and claim that the organization is sending trucks out to disconnect their power unless payment is made immediately to National Grid via Zelle, an online payment service. The call can sound convincing because the scammer provides the target with fake meter-read numbers and the call appears on the target's caller ID as a local phone number.

Note that the National Grid will not make unsolicited phone calls to residents demanding payment through online payment services, gift cards, or cash. Residents can also call National Grid using the customer service number on their bills and verify the meter number against their bill. Niagara County residents may use free reverse phone lookup tools to ascertain the true origins of suspicious phone numbers.

What are Niagara County Grandparent Scams?

The grandparent scam is usually targeted at grandparents or older family members in Niagara County. Scammers use a combination of many tricks including playing on the fear and love of the elderly for younger members of their family. The scam begins with a phone call from a fraudster claiming to be a grandchild of the target or a law enforcement officer informing the target that the "grandchild" has been arrested. In an instance where the call originates from the supposed grandchild, the scammer claims to have been arrested or in an accident. Financial help is required of the grandparent to bond out of jail or pay the incurred hospital bill.

Where the call is supposedly from someone pretending to be a law enforcement officer, the grandparent is required to send money for bail. The scammer puts a lot of pressure on the target to pay immediately or risk having the "grandchild" imprisoned. Financial aids or fund transfers are requested through gift cards, wire transfers, or prepaid debit debits. You can use a reverse cell phone lookup tool to verify if a caller’s identity matches the name given.

What are Niagara County COVID-19 Survey Scams?

Many Niagara County residents have reported receiving calls and text messages from fraudsters asking them to complete COVID-19 vaccine surveys with the promise of prizes or cash at the conclusion of the surveys. However, the surveys are used to steal money from consumers and unlawfully capture residents' personal information.

Residents receive the surveys via text messages or through callers asking them to visit website links to fill out the surveys. They are told they can choose from various free prizes, such as expensive smartphones and computers. Victims provide their credit card information and are charged for shipping and handling fees, but they never receive the promised prizes. Through the survey-filling process, victims also expose personally identifiable information to scammers, thereby increasing the chances of identity theft. Niagara County residents may use free reverse phone lookup tools to ascertain the true origins of suspicious phone numbers.

What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?

A robocall is an automated call delivering a pre-recorded message to a telephone user. Robocalls are largely perceived as intrusive, annoying, and illegal. However, several uses or robocalls are legal. Some of these instances include robocalls from schools to students, parents, or employees, and robocalls used to disseminate public service announcements by government or public bodies.

Robocalls employ the use of auto-dialers to help place instant calls to several telephone users with little to no human interaction required. After obtaining a large pool of telephone numbers through dubious means, scammers can feed the whole list to automated dialers which allows them to place robocalls to every number on the list. Combining more recent technologies such as VoIP and caller ID spoofing, criminals can make identifying legal calls from spam calls even harder. Spam calls are unwanted and are usually intended to defraud people of money or personal information.

A reverse phone number lookup application can identify if an incoming call is a robocall and help you avoid scams. Other steps you can take to avoid robocall scams and limit robocall intrusions include:

  • Hang up on calls from unknown callers. Do not answer calls with unfamiliar caller IDs
  • Hang up on robocalls. If you unknowingly answer a call and hear a prerecorded message, hang up immediately. Do not press any number to get removed from any list or to speak with a live agent.  Doing so will only indicate to the scammer that the line is active, which will lead to more robocalls
  • Do not give out personal or financial information over a telephone call.
  • Set your phone to block unwanted calls. The setting is available on both Android and iOS devices.
  • Contact your telephone service provider to inquire about available tools to deal with robocalls.
  • Download and install a third-party call-blocking application, such as Nomorobo, YouMail, Hiya, and Truecaller. These applications are available on the Android and iOS application stores.
  • Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. Illegal telemarketers are prohibited from calling numbers added to the list. If you get a robocall after 31 days of registration, it is likely to be a scam call.

How to Spot and Report Niagara County Phone Scams

Scammers often use the ignorance of people about scam tricks as an opportunity to try to take advantage of Niagara County residents. They use deceitful, high-pressure calls, emails, or texts that trick people into compromising their personal information or losing their money. They also use relevant technologies, follow news headlines, and peruse the internet and social media sites to gather information about intended victims. Where tricks have become well known, they create new variations just to get residents to crack. However, residents can take caution by using reverse phone number lookup tools to help spot scam calls. Other telltale signs to watch out for include situations in which:

  • The caller asks for sensitive personal information: This is a common trick used by scammers who intend to obtain sensitive information for use in identity thefts. No reputable organization will ask for your Social Security number, bank account information, and password. It is a big red flag if an unsolicited caller asks for this information over a telephone call.
  • The caller wants you to decide now or else you may lose an opportunity: This scheme is typically used by investment scammers or lottery scammers to lure you into making immediate payments. Do not fall for it. Other scammers may also use this trick to get you to act immediately
  • The caller wants you to make payment only through specific methods: Phone scammers do not want to be found or traced. Hence, payment is usually required through means that can be quite difficult to trace. Wire transfers using PayPal, MoneyGram, and Western Union do not require identification before accessing transferred funds. Payments made via prepaid debit cards and cryptocurrencies are also hard to retrieve.
  • The caller intimidates or threatens you: If a caller intimidates or threatens to revoke your license, sue you, or arrest you, there is a good chance that you are on the call to a phone scammer. Reputable organizations will not threaten to imprison or arrest you.
  • The caller ID is hidden: There is usually no reason to hide a caller ID when intentions are pure. Do not answer calls from hidden numbers. If you do, do not believe what you are told. Hidden caller identification is a common trick used by scammers who want to remain anonymous.

As more and more people fail to report scammers and scam calls, illegal acts intended to fleece unsuspecting residents continue to proliferate. You can help stem the tide of phone scams by reporting such experiences to relevant bodies at local, state, and federal levels. If you have fallen victim or have been contacted by a scammer, you can file complaints with any of the following public bodies:

  • The Niagara 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 Niagara County Sheriff's Office at (716) 438-3393. In the county seat of Lockport, you can contact the Lockport Police Department at (716) 433-7700.
  • The New York Attorney General’s Office:  To report a scam, you can file a complaint online to the New York Attorney General Office or by calling the office at (800) 771-7755.
  • Federal Communications Commission: If you receive unwanted robocalls and text messages, you can file a report online with the FCC.
  • Federal Trade Commission - The FTC protects consumers from deceptive and fraudulent practices. You can file a phone scam report with the FTC by completing the online complaint form.
  • 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.