What are Polk County Area Codes?
The first three numeric digits in a 10-digit North American telephone number represent an area code. The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) introduced area codes to designate the different numbering plan areas (NPAs) in geographic service territories. The Iowa Utilities Board administers area codes in Polk County.
Only one area code covers Polk County. This is:
Area Code 515
Area code 515 is a telephone area code for the NPA covering most of the north-central part of Iowa. This NPA includes Polk County and other surrounding counties. Cities within this NPA in Polk County include Altoona, Ankeny, Clive, Des Moines, Grimes, Johnston, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill, Polk City, Urbandale, and West Des Moines.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Polk County?
Like most Iowans, Polk County residents are switching from landlines to wireless telephony services for their telecommunication needs. A 2018 National Health Interview Survey reported that 61.3% of adults and 73.1% of children in the state solely used wireless telephony services. In contrast, only about 3.8% of adults and 1.6% of children lived in homes that exclusively used landlines for their telephony services.
Cell phone coverage in Iowa is good, considering how much of the state is still rural. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile covers 95%, 91%, and 74% of the state respectively. Sprint covers only about 36% of Iowa but has roaming agreements in locations where its services are unavailable. Several Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) use the major carriers’ network infrastructure to provide phone services to residents. These MVNOs offer alternative but limited telephony services at cheaper rates than the major carriers.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) provides telephony services that are cheaper, more flexible, and more efficient than wireless telephony and landlines. VoIP uses IP networks, typically broadband internet connections, to deliver phone services. Numerous companies in Polk County provide VoIP service packages to residents for businesses and homes.
What are Polk County Phone Scams?
Polk County phone scams are fraudulent schemes, perpetrated using telephone services, to obtain money or confidential information from residents. Reverse phone number search applications can return details on the registrants of the phone numbers used for scams.
The Iowa Attorney General issues tips and information to residents on phone scams. Residents who are victims of phone scams can also file complaints with the AG’s Office online or at (515) 281-5926. Victims of phone scams can also file reports with their local law enforcement authorities or contact the FTC. Some common phone scams in Polk County include:
What are IRS Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters impersonate employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and contact county residents. The callers inform their targets of fictitious back taxes and demand immediate payment. They tell them to use credit cards, debit cards, and pre-paid debit cards such as Green Dot for the payments. The callers can spoof caller IDs, so it displays the caller information of the IRS.
The IRS warns taxpayers about these scams and reiterates that it will not call taxpayers demanding immediate payment and will never ask for payment through prepaid debit cards. The IRS sends notices by U.S. Mail and taxpayers are allowed to appeal the amounts quoted before paying owed taxes. Residents who receive these phone calls and are unsure of their tax status should hang up and call the IRS directly on 1 (800) 829-1040 for verification. Victims who lost money to scammers should report their losses to their local police departments and the Sheriff’s Office. Victims of these scams can also report through the FTC complaint assistant and the Treasury Inspector General at 1 (800) 366-4484.
What are Grandparent Scams?
These scams target elderly residents, with the callers typically claiming to be grandchildren in need of emergency cash. The callers convince their victims to wire large amounts of money or provide financial information to pay to get out of claimed emergencies. These can include car accidents, medical emergencies, and remandment in county jail. The scammers usually glean personal details on their targets and their grandchildren from social media and trick them into revealing more personal information.
Authorities warn residents about these scams and advise them to speak with their elderly about it. Those contacted in this way must verify the callers’ claims before wiring money. Ask pertinent questions or contact another family member or relative if you cannot reach the grandchild on their verified phone number. Always be sure of who you are sending money to before wiring money or providing them prepaid money card numbers. Such transactions are often nearly impossible to trace and reverse. A phone number lookup can shed some light on the identity of such a caller. Victims of these scams should contact their local law enforcement agencies and file reports.
What are Utility Scams?
In these scams, the callers claim to represent local utility companies and threaten to shut off their services unless their victims make immediate payments. The callers may spoof caller IDs to make their calls look legitimate. They often claim their targets have overdue balances and must make electronic payments to avoid service disconnection. They direct victims to obtain reloadable debit cards, such as Green Dot prepaid debit cards, and load them with the money. The scammers get the card numbers from the victims and use them to withdraw the funds. If a fraudster successfully obtains a payment through a prepaid debit card, it is often impossible to recover the funds.
County authorities tell residents to hang up on callers claiming to collect on behalf of local utilities, even if caller IDs confirm that they are calling from the utilities. Utility companies do not demand immediate payment via prepaid debit cards and cannot threaten immediate disconnections. Confirm the status of your account by calling the company on a verified phone number. Do not provide or confirm personal and financial information on an unsolicited phone call. Victims of these scams should report them to their local police department and the Sheriff’s Office. Phone number lookup services can retrieve information to determine if phone numbers are being spoofed on caller IDs.
What are Tech Support Scams?
With these scams, the callers pose as computer technical support employees and may even identify themselves as representatives of reputable companies like Microsoft and Apple. They inform their targets of fictitious error warnings they received from their computers and request remote access purportedly to diagnose the issues.
The caller may try and convince you to download a software that allows remote access to your computer. Granting the requests enables the scammers to install malware on your computer. They could also install worthless or free antivirus software and charge considerable sums for them. These scammers may also install malicious software (malware) that give them control over their victims’ computers for the purpose of stealing identity and financial information or holding their files hostage and demanding ransom to reinstate access.
Know that tech companies do not make unsolicited phone calls about computer security and software fixes. Their support staff do not randomly monitor customers and call them to request payment for repairs and services. If you receive such a phone call, hang up. If you suspect there are issues with your computer system, contact a local computer repair shop. Victims of these scams can file reports with their local law enforcement agencies. If you believe a scammer has targeted you through computer malware, change all your passwords, and use a reputable antivirus software to scan your system.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are phone calls automated to deliver pre-recorded messages to large groups of phone users. Robocalls were associated initially with telemarketers and later with political campaigns and organizations making public service announcements. These entities legitimately use robocalls to contact multiple residents with little or no human involvement. For this same reason, scammers have adopted robocalls to steal money and sensitive information from residents. Scammers use robocalls to anonymously contact their targets and make demands for money and sensitive information. Residents who are used to receiving robocalls are also more likely to respond to the scammers’ requests. The best options for dealing with illegal robocalls are:
- List your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Telephone numbers included on this list for 31 days are exempted from unwanted telephone solicitations. This reduces the number of spam calls you will receive and alerts you to the possibility of scam calls.
- End phone calls that play automated responses immediately. These messages will prompt you to press specific keys to connect to a live operator or remove yourself from a list. Complying with these instructions confirms your number as active and sets you up for more robocalls.
- Report illegal robocall numbers to the FTC. This can be done online or by calling 1 (888) 382-1222.
- Verify robocall numbers with online applications that offer phone number lookups free services and use these applications to identify and block them.
- Phone manufacturers and network service providers also offer call-blocking features and applications that you can use to identify and block spam callers.
The FTC provides tips for blocking unwanted calls on any platform on its website.
How to Spot and Report Polk County Phone Scams?
While new scams are typically variations of old ones, scammers are always adapting their schemes to steal money and information from unsuspecting residents. Knowing about phone scams will help in spotting tell-tale signs when dealing with potential scammers. Education and awareness are still the most effective means of avoiding scammers and their cons.
Furthermore, online services that lookup suspicious phone numbers and provide answers like “who called me?” and “who is this number registered to?” are helpful. Such services are available for free and nominal subscription fees and run phone number searches by name, number, and address to retrieve the registration details of unknown callers. Such information can come in handy when filing reports with the authorities.
Indicators that unknown callers are potential scammers include:
- The callers inform you of debts you were previously unaware of and demand immediate payment through unconventional methods such as wire transfers and prepaid cards. Only scammers insist on these payment methods because funds sent through them are hard to trace.
- The callers claim to be government agents and use threats of punitive actions to coerce you to comply with their demands. Real government agents do not threaten residents over phone calls to obtain compliance.
- The callers claim to represent reputable institutions such as banks and government agencies and then requests for personal and financial information they should already have. Legitimate institutions do not ask for personal information on unsolicited phone calls.
- The callers make attractive business and investment proposals that promise high yields with no risks. They, however, dissuade you from thoroughly researching the offers or seeking advice from third-party sources. They usually claim a short window of opportunity and insist on immediate commitments.
- The callers inform you of lottery, sweepstakes, and prize wins. However, you must pay upfront fees or provide financial information to collect the winnings. If you have to pay upfront for prize or lottery winnings, it is most likely a scam.
Targets of phone scams in Polk County can contact any of the following agencies for assistance:
Iowa Attorney General - The Consumer Protection Unit of the IAG’s Office issues consumer tips and information. They also handle consumer complaints, investigate, and litigate cases. Residents can file reports with the IAG’s Office online or at (515) 281-5926. Alternatively, complete the printable complaint forms and mail them to the Office of the Attorney General.
Local Law Enforcement - Local law enforcement agencies like the Polk County Sheriff’s Office are the primary law enforcement agencies that receive reports from scam victims. Victims of phone scams in Polk County can file reports with the Sheriff’s Office at (515) 286-3333 or contact their local police departments.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - This is the federal authority that protects consumers from deceptive and fraudulent practices. It issues guidelines on blocking unwanted calls and maintains the National Do Not Call Registry to ensure consumer phone privacy. Phone numbers listed on the registry are restricted from receiving unauthorized spam calls. Report illegal robocalls and other fraudulent acts to the FTC online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.