An area code identifies a specific geographic region known as a Numbering Plan Area (NPA) in a state. They are represented by the first three digits at the beginning of American phone numbers and were established by the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). Polk County area code and NPAs in the state are managed by the Florida Public Service Commission (PUC).
Polk County is covered by only one active area code. This is:
Area Code 863
Split from the 941 NPA in 1999, area code 863 designates an NPA covering Polk County and parts of some other counties in the state. Lakeland, Bartow, Davenport, Frostproof, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Mulberry are some of the Polk County cities under this NPA.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in Polk County?
Cell phones have gained widespread adoption and become the preferred means of telecommunication in the State of Florida. This was inferred from the report of a 2018 CDC survey. It reported that about 60.9% of adult Floridians solely utilized cell phones for telephony services. Those that still used only landline phones for telecommunication made up just 4%. Over 70% of minors in the state also only used cell phones for telephony services.
The major phone carriers provide network services in Polk County. In the City of Lakeland, Verizon has excellent coverage of about 96%, followed by AT&T at 90%. T-Mobile extends coverage to about 82% of the city while Sprint covers 74% of its span. The major cities in Polk County generally enjoy better coverage and network strength than rural areas. A few Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) also offer network services for some neighborhoods within the county. They depend on the network infrastructures of the major phone companies to serve residents within their coverage.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enables Polk County residents to make phone calls and enjoy other telephony services over broadband internet connections. The service transmits audio and video calls in real-time over IP connections.VoIP phone services are generally more affordable than landline and wireless telephony services.
What are Polk County Phone Scams?
Polk County phone scams are deceptive practices perpetrated by fraudsters against county residents using phones and other telecommunication services. Although phone scams come in many variations, their singular aim is to steal valuable information and money from naive individuals.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services (FDACS) and the Florida Office of the Attorney General (FOAG) protect residents from deceptive business practices. The FDACS regulates various businesses and ensures sweepstakes promotions, charity organizations, and telemarketers are not used for phone scams. Also, the FOAG educates residents on avoiding phone scams and provides alerts on the latest phone scams. Polk County residents can also avoid phone scams by running unknown callers' numbers through websites that offer reverse phone number lookups.
The commonly perpetrated phone scams in Polk County include:
What are Social Security Scams?
Scammers are posing as Social Security Administration (SSA) employees to steal money and obtain personal information from county residents. The callers spoof caller IDs to display caller information of the SSA and adopt fake names and badge numbers when speaking with targets. They request the targets’ social security numbers (SSNs) for verification purposes and may even provide the last four digits. In some instances, they ask for the targets’ banking information. If the victims seem hesitant, the callers coerce them by implying that their SSNs will be suspended and that they will lose their benefits. In many instances, the targets will hear background voices at what may seem like a call site. This is all part of the ploy to make them appear authentic.
Do not disclose your SSN and other personal information to unknown persons over the phone. Employees of the SSA will never ask for SSNs because they already have them on file. The SSA warns residents never to disclose their credit card numbers to persons who claim to work for the SSA. To report social security scams, contact the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), SSA at 1 (800) 269-0271 or online. Victims of this scam can also file reports online with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
What are Sheriff’s Office Impersonation Scams?
The Polk County Sheriff's Office (PSCO) warns residents of phone scammers impersonating their employees. If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be a deputy sheriff, a reverse phone number lookup can identify who called. The callers will claim that the targets have warrants out for their arrests, usually for missing jury duty and court appearances and also for unpaid tickets. They will claim to be able to rescind the warrants if their targets make payments immediately; otherwise, the warrants will be executed. These scammers ask for payment via gift cards, wire transfers, or arrange to meet up and collect cash.
The PCSO emphasizes that it will never solicit money to cancel warrants and especially not over the phone. Residents who receive these types of calls can enquire online from the Sheriff's Office to know if there are warrants out for their arrests. Victims can report incidents of these phone scams to the PCSO by calling (863) 298-6200.
What are Tax Collection Scams?
The tax scam is a widespread ploy that targets taxpayers to steal money and personal information. Callers employing this scam impersonate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees when contacting Polk County residents. They inform unsuspecting targets that they owe taxes to the IRS that must be settled immediately, or punitive actions will be brought against them. Sometimes, these scammers hang up after the warnings and then their accomplice call, impersonating law enforcement officers, to affirm the previous callers' claims and threaten arrest.
Residents need to know their tax status to avoid falling for tax scams. Hang up the phone if you receive this type of call and are unsure of your status. You can call the IRS directly at 1 (800) 829-4484 to verify the caller’s claims. If you are sure you do not owe taxes, report such a call online to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) or call 1 (800) 366-4484. The IRS warns residents not to disclose personal information or send money to persons claiming to be their employees who solicit these over the phone. Polk County residents who are victims of tax scams can report these frauds to the Florida Office of the Attorney General by calling 1 (866) 966-7226. Reverse phone lookups can retrieve information about these callers, such as their identities and locations.
What are Electric Utility Scams?
Scammers perpetrating utility scams are typically pushy and hostile. They act with a sense of urgency when they call unsuspecting targets. The callers will introduce themselves as representatives of electric utility companies and tell targets that they have unpaid bills that must be settled immediately. They will request the targets immediately send money to clear the bills through gift cards, prepaid debit cards, and cryptocurrency. Persons perceived as uncooperative are threatened with immediate service disconnections to persuade them.
Polk County residents should not disclose personal information or make payments to unknown persons claiming to represent utility companies. Utility companies do not ask for payments via these odd channels,nor can they disconnect your services without multiple written notices. If you receive such a call, retrieve the company's phone number from a past bill and contact them directly to verify the caller's claim. Persons who are victims of this phone scam can file reports with the Polk County Sheriff's Office by calling (863) 298-6200.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
Robocalls are relatively cheap and have a wide-reaching ability, which is why they appeal to phone scammers. Robocalls are automated messages delivered by phone calls to auto-dialed phone numbers. Telemarketers and government agencies use robocalls for legitimate contact purposes, but phone scammers have adopted them to steal financial and identity information. You can verify if an incoming call is a robocall using an application that provides reverse phone number lookup services. Taking the following steps can help you avoid robocalls scams:
- End a phone call if it is a robocall. Listening further and acting on the message prompts will lead to more robocalls.
- Block robocall numbers with third-party call-blocking applications available for smartphones. Many of these applications are available for download from Google Play store and the App Store.
- Report robocall numbers to the FTC online or by calling 1 (888) 382-1222. Spoofed robocalls can also be reported online to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
- Add your phone number to the DNC Registry managed by the FTC. You can also enroll in Florida Do Not Call List. Doing these will stop legitimate telemarketers' robocalls from coming through your phone. Spam calls received after 31 days of registration are potential fraud calls.
How Can You Spot and Report Polk County Phone Scams?
A phone scammer’s objective is to obtain money and personal information from an unsuspecting individual deceptively. Phone scammers use personal and financial information gleaned from their targets to commit financial and identity thefts. Residents can protect themselves against phone scams by staying informed of the various tricks used by phone scammers. Phone scammers operate in several ways. These include:
- Scammers offer fake products for sale and pressure their targets to purchase them. They claim their attractive offers are fleeting to force the targets into making quick decisions without giving much thought.
- Phone scammers typically request payment through channels that are hard to trace. They want to receive payments by wire transfer, cash, bitcoins, and prepaid cards because funds received by these methods are almost irretrievable.
- Scammers pose as sweepstakes agents to tell targets that they have won prizes in contests they did not enter. They then ask the targets to pay upfront fees to claim such prizes.
- Scammers are typically hesitant to answer multiple questions about the products they offer or claims they make.
- Phone scammers employ scare tactics to get what they want. They pretend to be law enforcement and threaten to arrest their targets when they seem unwilling to comply with their demands.
Several government agencies educate Polk County residents on how phone scammers operate and how to avoid them. Many of them also provide reporting platforms where residents can file reports on phone scams incidents. These agencies include:
Florida Office of the Attorney General - The FOAG publishes scam alerts to protect residents from falling prey to phone scams. Persons who fall victim to phone scams in Polk County can file reports with the FOAG by calling 1 (866) 966-7226 or online.
Polk County Sheriff's Office - The PCSO uses search engines that provide reverse phone lookup services to find scammers’ real identities during investigations. It provides information on common Polk County phone scams. Residents who are phone scams victims can report to the PCSO at:
1891 Jim Keena Blvd
Winter Haven, FL 33880
Phone: (863) 298-6200
Federal Trade Commission - The FTC is a consumer protection agency for the entire United States. It encourages residents to enroll their phone numbers on the DNC Registry in a bid to prevent robocall scams. Phone scams can be reported to the FTC by calling 1 (888) 382-1222 or online.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services - The FDACS shields residents from deceptive and illegal business practices. Part of its duty is to also educate residents on the various phone scams being perpetrated in Florida. Polk County residents can report phone scams incidents to the FDACS by calling 1 (800) 435-7352.