Numbering Plan Areas (NPAs) were introduced when the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) came into effect. The NANP assigned three-digit numeric codes called area codes to differentiate the various NPAs. An area code appears at the beginning of a 10-digit telephone number and makes it possible to identify a phone call’s origin. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) delegated area codes’ supervision in Oregon to the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC).
Multnomah County is currently covered by two area codes.
Area Code 503
Area code 503 is one of the original 86 area codes introduced in 1947 and formerly served the entire State of Oregon. Currently, it covers Multnomah County and some nearby counties. Multnomah County cities under the 503 NPA jurisdiction include Portland, Gresham, Fairview, Maywood Park, Troutdale, and Wood Village.
Area Code 971
Area code 971 is an Oregon telephone overlay code in the NANP. It was introduced in 2000 as an overlay for the 503 NPA.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Multnomah County?
The use of traditional landlines continues to decline as many Multnomah County and Oregon residents switch to wireless telephony services. A 2018 CDC survey revealed that about 63.4% of Oregon adults resided in wireless-only households. Among the child population, wireless penetration was at an even higher rate. The data indicated that 73.6% of Oregon children lived in homes that exclusively used wireless telephony services. In contrast, children that lived in households with landlines-only subscriptions came to about 2.1%.
Cell coverage in Oregon leaves room for improvement. Verizon’s 74.4% coverage is the most extensive by any network operator in the state. AT&T’s 69.5% coverage in the state comes second, T-Mobile covers about 47.3% while Sprint reports coverage of 19%. Subscribers can connect to other networks with roaming agreements in place, in places where their network operators are unavailable.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)’s emergence contributed to the growing decline in landline use. VoIP’s use of broadband internet connection to transmit phone calls means only internet-capable devices can use this technology. Smartphones, computer systems, IP telephones, and traditional landlines fitted with adapters can all deliver VoIP services. This flexibility and the lower cost of VoIP phone services compared to traditional alternatives are chiefly responsible for its rapid adoption in Oregon.
What are Multnomah County Phone Scams?
These are devious schemes devised by fraudsters who use telephony services to extort money and obtain personal information from Multnomah County residents. These imposters make live calls and send recorded messages and bogus text messages to deceive potential victims. Through its Consumer Protection Unit, Oregon’s Department of Justice archives various scam alerts issued by the department. Common phone scams in the state are discussed below.
What are Grandparents Scams?
Fraudsters target elderly residents and claim to be grandchildren or distant relatives in distress and need urgent cash assistance. The supposed grandchildren are either in legal troubles while traveling overseas with friends or involved in accidents that require funds for medical and legal costs.
The Attorney General’s Office noted that Oregonians lost over $300,000 to these scams in 2013. The Department of Justice warned Multnomah County residents to confirm the status of any relative in distress before sending funds. Avoid these scams by conducting reverse phone number lookups to get details about the callers’ true identities. Report grandparent scams to the AG's Office by calling the Consumer Hotline on 1 (877) 877-9392 or lodge a complaint online.
What are Employment Scams?
Fraudsters execute employment scams by placing ads for bogus job opportunities to attract unsuspecting Multnomah County residents. Residents are provided phone numbers to call, in the ads, to apply for the jobs. Once they receive job applicants’ calls, the scammers use the promise of job placements to extort money or retrieve personal information from them. Residents are warned to be careful about these types of adverts. Ask pertinent questions about job offers before providing your information. Research the company offering the job opportunity as thoroughly as possible; the Better Business Bureau can help with this. If a job will only be confirmed after paying upfront, avoid it as it is most likely a scam. Victims of these scams can file complaints online with the Consumer Protection Unit.
What are Charity Scams?
Criminals set up fake charities and solicit money from unsuspecting Multnomah County residents. This deception relies on the goodwill of people to extort money. Usually, these fraudsters choose names for their phony charities similar to real ones to earn legitimacy and look like affiliates. Run an online search to verify the registration status of any charity in Oregon before making donations. Use reverse phone lookup to confirm that the number calling you was assigned to the charity you believe you are supporting. Report charity scams to the Consumer Protection Unit by filing an online complaint or calling (971) 673-1880.
What are Utility Scams?
Scammers pose as staff of utility companies and call Multnomah County residents about outstanding debts. The callers threaten imminent disconnection of services if their targets do not make immediate payments. They demand that victims use wire transfers or purchase prepaid cards and read the numbers to them over the phone. The Attorney General’s Office noted that these scams may involve phone spoofing to make the victims’ caller IDs display the utility companies’ information. Utility companies warn residents to disregard such phone calls as they will never call and threaten immediate service disconnection without sending several mail notices first. Call the consumer hotline at 1 (877) 877- 9392 to report to the Department of Justice or file a complaint online.
What are Free Trials Scams?
In these cons, scammers offer Multnomah County residents the opportunity to try out new products for free. However, these free trials are misleading because residents unintentionally subscribe to other services and get billed for them when the trial periods lapse. Fraudsters running this scam do not fully disclose the terms of trial offers and unsuspecting victims get billed for the accompanying services. Authorities warn Multnomah County residents to always look out for pre-checked boxes while signing up for free trials. Report free trial scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by using their online complaint assistant.
Scammers succeed because with their true identities hidden, they can assume any character and imitate whoever will grant them access to potential victims. A phone number lookup can answer the “who is this number registered to?” question, reveal the callers’ real information, and reduce the chances of scams being successful.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are placed by automatic dialing machines delivering pre-recorded messages to multiple phone users. Robocalls were first used by telemarketers to reach potential clients. However, scammers now use robocalls to find potential targets and deceive phone scam victims.
Several laws, such as the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, have been passed to protect consumers from robocalls and spam calls. The Act recommended severe punishments for robocalls abusers. Manufacturers of mobile phones help fight spam calls by including call filtering and call blocking features in their devices. Switching on these features will help phone users reduce spam calls drastically. Telephone carriers also provide call filtering and call blocking services to their subscribers, usually for small fees. After making inquiries, residents can make informed choices about the most suitable service to use.
These steps will reduce robocall abuse:
- Do not pick calls from unknown numbers. Rather, redirect them to voicemail.
- Go through your voicemail and call those that left messages. Ignore those that did not leave one and delete suspected spam numbers.
- Set up a voicemail password to guard against hacking by spoofing.
- End the call immediately if you inadvertently pick a robocall. Ignore instructions given during the robocall as following them attracts more robocalls.
- Request free call blocking services from your network operator.
- Download call blocking apps, if one is not freely provided by your telephone carrier.
- Place your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. You can also add a phone number to the registry by dialing 1 (888) 382-1222 from the number you want on the list. Legitimate telemarketers will not call phone numbers after 31 days on the register.
- Report persistent robocall abuse after registering on the National Do Not Call Registry to the FTC.
How to Spot and Report Multnomah County Phone Scams?
While there are different kinds of phone scams, they share certain tell-tale signs. Multnomah County residents should look out for the following signs of phone scams:
- Callers requiring money for processing, shipping, or taxes before sending prizes allegedly won.
- Transactions that involve payments only via gift cards or wire transfers. Scammers prefer receiving payments through these means because they are hard to trace and recover. Avoid such transactions.
- Calls from utility companies threatening to cut off services if payments are not made are suspected scams. Utility companies do not reach out to defaulters through telephone calls.
- Unfamiliar charities that bear similar names with more established charities are dubious. Ask questions from those soliciting for funds on their behalf and verify their registration status.
- Government agencies making unsolicited calls and asking Multnomah County residents to confirm their personal information are suspicious. Do not share your personal information over unsolicited phone calls.
Reporting phone scams is crucial to preventing future occurrences and apprehending criminals helps the authorities understand how phone scammers operate and how to educate citizens to avoid them. The following agencies provide Multnomah County residents with scam alerts and offer victims platforms to report scam incidents:
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office investigates crime activities and arrests lawbreakers in the county. Dial (503) 988-4300 to report phone scam incidents to the Sheriff’s Office.
Under the Office of the Attorney General, Oregon’s Department of Justice has a Consumer Protection Unit that archives the different scam alerts issued by the department. Multnomah County residents can also request free fraud prevention training offered by the Department of Justice. If unsure about any business’s credibility, search through previous consumer complaints, and check if any had been brought toward the company. Sign up to be a part of the department’s Scam Alert Network and receive regular updates on scams. Victims of scams should complain to the department online or call (877) 877-9392.
The telecommunications industry is under the regulation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC provides resources on how to identify spoofing and activate call blocking that help residents avoid scams. Caller authentication systems have been identified as crucial to eradicate spoofing, and the FCC has mandated network operators to upgrade them. Report phone spoofing and other phone scams to the FCC by filing a complaint online.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) promotes fair trade and protects consumers’ interests. They provide guides that help residents identify common phone scams and avoid robocalls. The National Do Not Call Registry, which keeps away legitimate telemarketers, is managed by the FTC. Use the online complaints assistance page to lodge complaints of phone scams to the FTC.