There are two area codes covering Windham County. These are area codes 860 and 959. Area codes are three-digit codes assigned to numbering plan areas (NPAs). Both NPAs and area codes were introduced at the creation of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) in 1947. The NANP replaced the conflicting call switching systems prior to its introduction. Once adopted by telephone networks across participating countries in North America, it unified the call routing system and made it easier to identify the origins of phone calls. To make North American phone networks more efficient, the NANP made call routing and switching easier and made phone numbers assigned across all regions uniform. In a typical 10-digit North American phone number, the first three digits represent the area code.
Area Code 860
Created on August 28, 1995 from a split of the NPA represented by area code 203, area code 860 covers most of the State of Connecticut. The only section of the state not covered by this area code is the southwest part. Area code 860 serves all the communities in Windham County including the towns of Windham, Killingly, and Putnam.
Area Code 959
First proposed in August 1999 as an overlay code for the 860 NPA, area code 959 took over a decade to be implemented. It came into service on August 30, 2014. It serves communities in Windham County including Willimantic, Windham, and Plainfield.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Windham County?
Most of the residents of Windham County, and the rest of Connecticut, still rely on both landline and cell phone services for their telecommunication needs. A 2018 wireless substitution survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics indicated that 40.8% of the adult residents of the state relied solely on wireless phone services. In contrast, only 6.6% of them still used landline phone services solely for their communication needs. The gap between wireless-only and landline-only phone users was reported to be wider among minors in the state. The survey showed that 50.6% of the residents of Connecticut under the age of 18 only used wireless phone services. Only 2.3% of this demographic indicated they solely used landline phone services.
All three national carriers offer phone services in Connecticut. AT&T has the most extensive phone network in the state and covers 99.98% of its area. T-Mobile and Verizon follow closely with 98.4% and 98.3% coverage of the state respectively. Besides these national carriers, residents of Windham County can also sign up for phone services from regional carriers. Also called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), these are smaller carriers that rely on the network infrastructure of bigger carriers and buy network services from them in bulk. Regional carriers pass on some of the savings from the bulk orders to their subscribers. While they usually offer cheaper cell phone plans, national carriers usually offer better network services and coverage especially outside of the core areas served by regional carriers.
Residents of Windham County can also sign up for phone services provided by VoIP operators. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a communication technology that relies on the internet to transmit voice and video signals. VoIP phone services transmit voice and video calls as data packets over the internet. It requires fast internet access and is most cost-effective for residents with broadband internet access. VoIP phone services offer certain advantages over cellular and landline phone services. They are usually cheaper for long-distance calls. They are also better suited for teleconferencing needs. Users of VoIP phone services can also place and receive calls from the computers and tablets in addition to their phones.
What are Windham County Phone Scams?
These are fraudulent schemes conducted using phone tools and services and targeted at residents of Windham County. Fraudsters contact and trick their victims using phone calls and text messages. They may also use specialized phone tools and services such as robocalls, spam calls, caller ID spoofing, and phishing. Some of these tools are for finding new targets for their frauds while others are for impersonating the people these targets trust. Regardless of the method and tool used, scammers aim to defraud their victims and steal confidential information such as bank account details, passwords, and Social Security numbers.
To avoid and detect phone scams, residents of Windham County must learn to use call blocking and reverse phone number lookup. They also need to learn about prevalent telephone frauds in their communities as well as the tactics used by scammers to find and defraud their victims. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) has a dedicated online portal to help residents of the state learn about, and report, phone scams. According to the DCP, some of the most common phone scams in the state are lottery scams, emergency scams, IRS scams, and utility scams.
What are Windham County Lottery Scams?
These are fraudulent schemes involving strange callers informing unsuspecting residents of the state that they have won foreign lotteries. Scammers usually choose foreign lotteries because these are harder to verify. However, they may also claim their victims have won out-of-state lotteries held in the US. After getting their victims excited about the bogus winnings, the scammers ask that they pay some amounts to cover taxes, processing, and other fees required to claim their prizes.
Windham County residents should know that legitimate lotteries do not ask winners to pay for taxes or similar fees. Such fees are usually taken from winnings. If contacted by a stranger claiming you won a lottery, especially one you have never heard of and did not remember entering in, take the time to investigate the claim. First, confirm the caller’s identity with a free phone number lookup. Secondly, search online for the lottery itself and details such as when it runs and the current winners. If the named lottery is genuine, call the agency responsible for organizing it to ask about the claims heard from the strange caller.
What are Windham County Emergency Scams?
Emergency scams involve scammers posing as loved ones when they call to ask for financial help to get out made-up emergencies. These scams usually target elderly residents and have fraudsters impersonating family members. Therefore, they are also sometimes referred to as grandparent scams or family emergency scams. In an emergency scam, the fraudster claims they need urgent financial help to meet a named emergency. This bogus emergency may involve getting out of jail, coming from a foreign country where they are stuck, or paying hospital bills. The scammer also asks the victim to keep the help a secret from other loved ones, claiming they will be further embarrassed if other loved ones learn about their predicament.
Windham County residents should know that emergency scams succeed because victims agree to keep them a secret. If contacted by a distant loved one asking for money for some claimed emergency, ask probing questions only the loved one should know. Call other family members to confirm what you heard. Call the loved one directly, with their number saved on your phone, to confirm that they indeed called for him. Use a reverse cell phone lookup to confirm the identity of the caller and their location if they are calling with an unknown number.
What are Windham County IRS Scams?
These are also impostor scams. In these scams, fraudsters impersonate employees of the Internal Revenue Service and may even provide some badge numbers stolen from actual employees of the IRS. These scammers often use caller ID spoofing to make their calls appear to be coming from the IRS. When contacting unsuspecting residents, IRS scammers may claim their victims owe back taxes that need to be repaid immediately. When they take this approach, they are rude on the phone and threaten their victims with dire consequences if they do not send part or all of the supposedly owed amounts immediately.
IRS scammers may also sound friendly and courteous on the phone. When they do, they are usually informing their targets that they qualify for tax refunds. The scammers then ask their targets to provide verifying information such as their Social Security numbers and banking account details. They claim to need these pieces of information to verify their tax refunds and process payments. Do not provide a strange caller claiming to be an IRS agent with confidential and personal information. Do not send money to such callers too.
Residents of Windham County can avoid tax scams by learning how the IRS works. The IRS does not initiate communication with taxpayers by phone. They do so by mail correspondences. The agency also does not call to threaten taxpayers to pay owed taxes or to tell them about tax refunds. They inform residents about back taxes and refunds by mail. Do not trust your phone’s caller ID to correctly identify a stranger caller. Even if it shows that a call’s ID as the IRS, do not let your guard down. If the stranger claiming to be an IRS calls with a number you can read, submit that number for a suspicious phone number lookup. This search will likely reveal that the number is not registered to the IRS or that it has been previously used for other scams.
What are Windham County Utility Scams?
Fraudsters running utility scams are also impostors preying on residents’ trust. They claim to be employees or bill collectors working for local utility companies. These scammers then inform their targets about outstanding utility bills and threaten to cut electricity, gas, or water supply to their victims’ homes and businesses if they do not send money to cover some or part of their utility bills immediately. Like the IRS, local utility companies are unlikely to call asking for outstanding bills. They definitely will not call to threaten their customers.
State laws require these companies to send multiple mail notices to customers’ addresses about outstanding utility bills before cutting them off. If contacted by a stranger claiming to work for the local utility company, ask them to provide their identification number and then call the company to verify their identity. A quick phone number lookup can also determine whether the caller’s number is indeed registered to the company they claim to represent.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are automated phone calls that deliver pre-recorded messages to lots of phone users. Once commonly used by telemarketers, political campaigns, and public organizations sending out public service announcements, robocalls are now the favorite tools of scammers and spammers. Fraudsters use robocalls because they are cost-effective ways of reaching a lot of people with minimal effort. Therefore, they use robocalls to find new targets for their scams.
Spam calls are also used by scammers and dubious telemarketers to find new targets. These are also bulk calls but they are likely placed by people working for these bad actors and reading from prepared scripts. As the number of spam calls and robocalls received by American phone users outstrip the number of genuine calls, there are calls to find ways to curtail these unwanted and unsolicited calls. Residents of Windham County can stop or reduce the number of robocalls and spam calls received by taking the following actions:
- Do not trust your phone’s caller ID to correctly identify callers. Be wary when receiving calls from persons you do not know
- Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. Let these go to voicemail where you can review the messages left and decide which ones to return
- Hang up on a call as soon as you realize it is a robocall or spam call
- Do not follow instructions provided during a robocall or spam call on how to stop receiving further calls. Such prompts only serve to confirm active numbers and will direct more unwanted calls to those numbers
- Stop calls from unknown or blacklisted numbers from ringing your phone by setting up its call blocking phone. In addition to smartphones, carriers also provide call filtering and call blocking services. Ask yours for these services and enquire about the cost. You can also find well-reviewed third-party apps on your phone’s app store that offer call blocking features by filtering incoming calls through a blacklist of numbers flagged by users
- Use a good reverse phone lookup service to identify unknown callers and find out who called. This can help you determine if an unknown caller is a scammer, spammer, or stalker. The pieces of information obtained from such search can also be included in police reports submitted to law enforcement
- Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. This will stop calls from legitimate telemarketers. Robocalls and spam calls received after 31 days of joining this Registry should be reported to the FCC
How to Spot and Report Windham County Phone Scams
Recognizing phone scams requires knowing how they progress and learning about the signs to look out for. While fraudsters are always tweaking their scams to stay ahead of wary targets, certain aspects of these cons cannot be changed if scammers hope to defraud their victims. Residents of Windham County should look out for the following red flags when talking to strangers on the phone:
- Impostors pretending to be authority figures are quick to resort to threats to force their targets to comply with their demands. They may threaten to arrest or jail their victims or deport them and revoke their business, professional or driver’s license
- Request for payment by unofficial channels. While impersonating government officials, law enforcement, employees of tax agencies, utility companies, and private organizations, scammers ask their targets to send official payments directly to them. They may ask for payments in cash or by prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, mobile app transfers, and cryptocurrencies
- High-pressure sales tactics. Scammers pushing fake investment and business offers want to conclude their transactions quickly. To do so, they use aggressive sales tactics by making their victims fear they will miss out on rare opportunities. In addition to claiming their high-reward offers are only available for a very short time, they may also offer deep discounts to convince their victims to pay up quickly. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it most likely is
- Inability to provide documents backing their claims and confirming their identities. Scammers do not want to leave a paper trail that law enforcement can use to find them. Therefore, they refuse to provide written documentation supporting their claims and identities and rather keep offering fake testimonials from strangers to convince their targets
Residents that see any of these signs when communicating with strangers asking them for money or sensitive personal information should report such calls as possible scam attempts. Fraud reports are useful as they help law enforcement and consumer protection agencies find and prosecute scammers. They also increase public awareness of prevailing scams in the state and county. Windham County residents can submit scam reports to the following authorities:
- The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) - this is the state consumer protection agency. The DCP mediates consumer complaints about unfair business practices. Residents of Windham County can submit scam complaints to the DCP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, fax at (860) 707-1966 or by mail sent to:
Department of Consumer Protection
450 Columbus Boulevard
Hartford, CT 06103
- The Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) - the TIGTA handles all IRS scams including impostor scams. Residents can report successful and attempted IRS scams to the TIGTA by filing IRS impostor scam complaints online
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - the FTC is the federal consumer protection agency responsible for safeguarding Americans from unfair and deceitful business practices. All scams involving consumer transactions can be reported to the FTC. Residents of Windham County can report consumer scams to the FTC online or by calling (877) 382-4357
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - the FCC the federal regulator overseeing the communications industry including the telecommunications sector. Therefore, it regulates phone service providers as well as phone tools and services. Residents of Windham County can report spam calls and illegal robocalls to the FTC. The agency also receives reports of caller ID spoofing and phishing. Residents can also report scams conducted using these tools to the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center