What are Yellowstone County Area Codes?
Named after the Yellowstone River cutting down the middle of the county, Yellowstone County occupies an area measuring 2,649 square miles in the lower part of Montana. Its county seat is Billings, the largest city in Montana. A 2019 estimate put the population of Yellowstone County at 161,300.
A single area code covers all over Yellowstone County. This is area code 406. An area code is a three-digit code for a numbering plan area (NPA). When AT&T introduced the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) in 1947, 86 area codes were created along with their corresponding NPAs. An NPA corresponds to a geographic area regarded as a unit in the North American telephone system. The introduction of area codes simplified call switching and routing across North American phone networks and made long-distance calls more reliable. An area code identifies the part of the US where a phone number was assigned. It is represented by the first three digits in a 10-digit US phone number.
Area Code 406
Area code 406 is the only area code covering the State of Montana. It has been the state’s only area code since the creation of the NANP in 1947 and is projected to be exhausted in 2027. Communities in Yellowstone County served by area code 406 include Billings, Laurel, and Broadview.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Yellowstone County?
Most of the residents of Yellowstone County have switched from landline phones to wireless phones. A 2018 survey conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found that 51.9% of the adult residents of Montana used wireless phones exclusively for their telecommunication needs. In contrast, 6.3% of this demographic still used landline phones only. Wireless-only phone users make up a greater percentage of Montana minors. About 62% of residents under the age of 18 indicated that they only use wireless phones while 2.4% of Montana minors only use landline phones.
Major carriers and smaller, regional ones provide cell phone services in Yellowstone County. Compared to most states in the country, Montana has a lower overall cell phone network coverage. AT&T has the most extensive cell phone network in Montana and it covers 68.4% of the state. Verizon and T-Mobile cover 56.7% and 57.6% of the state respectively. Regional carriers are usually Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). They offer cheaper cell phone plans even though they rely on the network infrastructure of major carriers and buy network services from them. These regional carriers are able to offer cheaper plans because they get lower rates when they buy network services in bulk from major carriers.
VoIP service providers also provide phone services in Yellowstone Country. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a communication technology that transmits voice signals over the internet as data packets. VoIP phone services require broadband internet access. Yellowstone County residents and businesses with fast internet access can lower the phone bills by signing up for VoIP phone services. VoIP makes low-cost long-distance calls possible and is perfect for telecommuting and teleconferencing needs.
What are Yellowstone County Phone Scams?
These are telephone frauds reported in Yellowstone County. They include phone scams that occur in the county as well as those targeting residents and organizations there. Through deception, phone scammers defraud their victims and steal confidential personal information. To achieve these goals, they use phone tools such as robocalls and spam calls to find new targets. To make these targets trust them enough to send money and release their confidential information, fraudsters impersonate authority figures by using caller ID spoofing and phishing.
Residents hoping to avoid phone scams and spot scammers should consider anti-scam phone tools like call blocking and reverse phone number lookup. To use these tools effectively, they must also learn about common phone scams in their communities and how fraudsters use these to steal from their victims. Some of the most prevalent phone scams in Montana are government grant scams, IRS scams, lottery/sweepstakes scams, and computer repair scams.
What are Yellowstone County Government Grant Scams?
These scams may end with victims losing their money or unwittingly handing over confidential information to scammers. A government grant scam begins with a call from a stranger congratulating the target on qualifying for a government grant. The scammer may then ask their victim to pay a certain fee to cover taxes and processing of the grant. Alternatively, they may send them an application form to complete. This form is used to collect the victims’ credit card number, Social Security number, and other unique information needed by the scammer for identity theft or credit card frauds.
Be wary of callers offering you grants even when you never applied for them. The government does not require those qualifying for grants to pay some money before collecting them. They also do not need to collect information they already have. If you receive a call from a stranger offering a government grant, find out who called with a reverse phone number lookup. Call the government agency offering the grant or responsible for handing it out to confirm the caller’s claim.
What are Yellowstone County Tax Scams?
Like government grant scams, tax scams are also impostor scams and the fraudsters running them may seek to defraud their targets or steal their personal information. In one variation of tax scams, the target receives a call from someone claiming to be an IRS employee and demanding immediate payment of back taxes. This caller is quick to threaten their target when they sense hesitance or resistance from them. They may threaten to have them arrested or audited. In the second variation of such scams, an impostor IRS employee calls to offer the unsuspecting taxpayer tax refund and claims to require certain information to confirm their identity and process the refund. In their excitement, the target provides this stranger with confidential information like their Social Security number. Scammers also impersonate the Montana Department of Revenue to extort and defraud residents.
Residents of Yellowstone County can avoid IRS scams by learning how the Internal Revenue Service works. The IRS does not call taxpayers unless such calls are pre-arranged. They initiate communication by mail and inform citizens of owed taxes and tax refunds by mail. If you receive a call from a stranger claiming to work for the IRS, find out more about them by searching their number with a free reverse phone lookup. Ask them to provide their IRS identification number and inform them you will be calling the IRS to verify their identity and claims.
What are Yellowstone County Lottery/Sweepstakes Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters call to congratulate their targets on winning lotteries and sweepstakes. These are usually out-of-state and foreign lotteries and sweepstakes that victims cannot easily verify. After getting their victims excited about the windfalls coming their way, these scam calls inform them that they will need to pay for taxes and processing fees before claiming their winnings. They ask for this amount to be wired directly to them or ask victims to provide their credit card numbers.
It is important to know that it is illegal for lottery and sweepstakes organizers to ask winners to pay any amount before claiming their prizes. Legitimate lottery/sweepstakes organizers do not ask for money before handing out winnings. If you receive such a demand from a caller claiming you are a lottery winner, dig deeper and use suspicious phone number lookup to research them. This search will confirm that the caller is not affiliated with the organizers of the lottery or sweepstakes they claimed you won. The search may also reveal that the caller’s number has been previously flagged for similar scams.
What are Yellowstone County Computer Repair Scams?
Computer repair scams are also known as tech support scams. These impostor scams start with targets receiving calls from strangers claiming to represent well-known tech companies such as Microsoft and Apple. They claim to be calling to remove viruses detected on their targets’ computers or to install computer security software to prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in the machines’ operating systems.
In its simplest form, a computer repair scam leads to the fraudster charging the victim for bogus repairs and useless computer security software. These charges may be recurring. Computer repair scammers may also install malware on their victims’ computers after they are granted remote access. These malware may be viruses, spyware, or ransomware that lock users out of their computers until they pay demanded ransoms.
Do not give remote access to your computer to a stranger. You should also know that tech companies do not offer unsolicited tech support and do not scan their customers’ computers looking for viruses. If contacted by a stranger claiming to represent one of these companies, make sure to run their phone numbers through a reverse number lookup to discover their true identities. Do not send money to such callers or give them your confidential records.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
These are unwanted and unsolicited calls placed in large numbers. Scammers and dubious telemarketers use robocalls and spam calls to find new targets for their fraudulent schemes. These tools let them cast wide nets and find a lot more unsuspecting residents who believe their lies.
Robocalls are automated phone calls that deliver messages usually recorded by voice synthesizers. When they were first introduced, most robocalls were from legitimate telemarketers, political campaigns, and organizations delivering public service announcements. These days most robocalls are from scammers reaching out to their target demographic or anyone who will listen. Spam calls are bulk phone calls sent out to long lists of phone numbers. However, they are likely to be placed by human agents delivering similar messages according to a scripted sales pitch.
As the number of robocalls and spam calls received by American phone users keep climbing every year, lawmakers, tech companies, and phone carriers are looking for the best ways to curb these unsolicited calls. Before such efforts come to fruition, residents of Yellowstone County can take the following steps to stop or cut down on the amount of robocalls and spam calls they receive:
- Let calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail. Listen to the messages left at your convenience and decide which ones to return
- Hang up a call the moment you discover it is a robocall or spam call
- Do not follow instructions left during robocalls and spam calls on how to stop receiving more of such calls. Follow these prompts will lead to more of such calls
- Block calls from unknown contacts or blacklisted numbers. You can do this by setting up the call filtering function on your phone, asking your carrier for this feature, or installing a well-reviewed call blocking app from your phone’s app store
- Identify unknown callers with reverse phone number lookup. This can help you find information on scammers, spammers, or stalkers targeting you when you report them to law enforcement
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry to stop receiving telemarketing calls. While scammers and dishonest telemarketers do not obey the rules of the DNC Registry, you can report all robocalls and spam calls received after a month of joining this Registry to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
How to Spot and Report Yellowstone County Phone Scams
Spotting phone scams requires learning all you can about telephone frauds and looking out for telltale signs of these when talking to strangers on the phone. While scammers modify their schemes every now and then, their aim remains to defraud those that they are targeting. Residents of Yellowstone County can be alerted to phone scams by these signs:
- Callers threatening to arrest, prosecute, deport, or revoke their driver’s, business, or professional licenses if they do not send money or provide requested information immediately
- Callers asking to be paid in cash or by wire transfer, gift card, prepaid debit card, mobile payment transfer, or cryptocurrencies. Government agencies, law enforcement, courts, the IRS, utility companies, charities, and other legitimate public organizations do not accept payments via these channels
- Callers aggressively marketing their products and services by offering very steep discounts or inspiring the fear of missing out on great deals. This tactic is often used by scammers peddling bogus investment and business deals and vacation/travel packages
- Callers unwilling to provide written documentation backing their claims or verifying their identities
If any of these signs tips you off, investigate the caller with a suspicious phone number lookup and report them to the authorities. Reports of phone scams help law enforcement and consumer protection agencies find and prosecute scammers and dishonest businesses. These reports also contribute to public knowledge about telephone frauds. Residents of Yellowstone County can report phone scams to the following government agencies:
- The Office of Consumer Protection of the Montana Department of Justice - the state’s consumer protection agency safeguards residents of Montana against harmful and unfair business practices from those serving consumers in the state. You can file a complaint against a business or a scam complaint with the Office
- The Montana Department of Revenue - Report or enquire about calls from strangers claiming to represent the state’s Department of Revenue and demanding payments by calling (406) 444-6900
- The Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) - the TIGTA receives complaints of IRS impersonation and prosecutes fraudsters scamming Americans with IRS frauds. File an IRS impersonation scam complaint with the TIGTA online
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - the FTC is the federal consumer protection agency and its responsibilities include protecting American consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices. Residents of Yellowstone County can report consumer scams to the FTC by calling (877) 382-4357 or filing fraud complaints online
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - the FCC is the federal agency regulating all communications in the country. It regulates the telecommunication industry and is concerned with the proper use of phone tools and services. Report illegal robocalls and all other violations of the DNC Registry to the FTC. Residents of Yellowstone County can also report spam calls, caller ID spoofing, phishing, and telephone frauds to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center