Area codes identify the different numbering plan areas (NPAs) in U.S. states. They are the first three digits of North American telephone numbers. The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) established area codes to streamline long-distance calling procedures. Area codes in Missouri are under the purview of the Missouri Public Service Commission.
There are two area codes currently serving St. Louis County. These are:
Area Code 314
Area code 314 is the telephone area code that serves the City of St. Louis and the inner-ring suburbs in St. Louis County. It was one of the original set of area codes introduced in 1947 by the NANP. Cities in St. Louis County under this NPA include Bridgeton, Creve Couer, Ferguson, Florissant, Kirkwood, Ladue, Overland, and Hazelwood.
Area Code 636
Area code 636 is a telephone area code that serves east-central Missouri, including most of St. Louis County. It also covers parts of the surrounding counties. It became active in 1999. In St. Louis County, locations under this NPA include Ballwin, Chesterfield, Eureka, Fenton, St. Ann, Valley Park, and Wildwood.
What are the Best Cell Phone Plans in St. Louis County?
About 64.2% of the total adult population of Missouri has switched from landlines to wireless telephony services. Only 3.2% of the state’s adult population still used landlines exclusively. These statistics are from a 2018 survey by the National Center of Health Statistics and infer landlines are becoming obsolete. Overall, cell phones have become the dominant means of telecommunication in St. Louis County.
The four major telephone carriers, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, are present in St. Louis County, and each provides excellent coverage of the county. All four phone carriers claim 100% service coverage in the county. Also present in St. Louis County are Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). MVNOs use the infrastructure of the major carriers to provide telephony services at more competitive rates.
St. Louis County’s proximity to the City of St. Louis means that a number of VoIP service providers are available for businesses and homes in the county. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) describes a service that uses IP networks to deliver telephony services.
What are St. Louis County Phone Scams?
These are fraudulent attempts to obtain money and confidential information from St. Louis County residents, using telephony services. If you receive a call from a suspicious number, lookup services can retrieve information on who called.
The Consumer Protection section of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office protects consumers from frauds, deceptions, and other unfair practices. Victims of fraud and scams can contact the A.G’s Office on (800) 392-8222 or file online complaints.
Common phone scams in St. Louis County include:
What are Arrest Warrant Scams?
In these scams, callers impersonate officers of the St. Louis County Police Department (or other local law enforcement agencies) and contact county residents. The scammers inform the targets of active warrants for the arrests. They claim the warrants were issued for minor offenses such as missed jury duties, unpaid fines and tickets, and “pending cases.” The scammers then demand payments from their targets to clear the warrants. They ask for payment via wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, and online cash apps. They may even request credit or debit card information to facilitate the payments.
The St. Louis County Police Department (SLCPD) warns residents that its officers do not contact residents about active warrants and never ask for payments over the phone. The SLCPD will also never insist on payments by wire transfer or prepaid cards. While these scammers can spoof Caller IDs to display SLCPD phone numbers, reverse phone lookup services can help retrieve information about the spoofed numbers. If you receive such calls, hang up, and contact the SLCPD on (636) 529-8210 or your local police department.
What are Ameren Utility Scams?
Scammers contact consumers in St. Louis County and impersonate Ameren Corporation employees. The callers claim the targets have unpaid utility bills and threaten to disconnect services if the bills are not settled immediately. The scammers usually demand payments via cash apps, reloadable prepaid debit cards, and wire transfers.
Authorities warn county residents to be wary of such calls. Regulations that govern cut-off of utilities dictate that service providers must issue multiple past-due notices before disconnecting consumer services. The Ameren Corporation also informs consumers that it does not demand payments by any of these irregular methods. Consumers who receive these types of calls should hang up and contact Ameren directly to make inquiries. Phone number searches can identify if these calls are legitimately from Ameren, or your power services company.
What are Grandparent Scams?
As the name implies, these scams mostly target elderly county residents. The scammers claim to be relatives of their targets, typically grandchildren, who are in desperate situations in far-off locations. These locations are usually in other states or countries, and the emergencies described can be car accidents, hospitalizations, being stranded, and incarceration. The scammers ask that money be wired promptly to help them resolve these situations. They also request the matter remain a secret, especially from other family members. In a variation of this scam, the callers claim to be lawyers or police officers. They inform the targets that their family members have been arrested and require money for bail.
These scams rely on the victims making hasty decisions to help out family members. Do not rush to action if you receive these types of calls. Always seek confirmation on the well-being of the relative from a third party before making any payment. Phone number searches can retrieve information to verify the authenticity of such calls. Victims of grandparent scams should file reports with their local police department or the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office.
What are Robocalls and Spam Calls?
A robocall is an automated phone call preset to deliver a recorded message to a recipient. Robocalls are commonly used in telemarketing and political campaigns to target mass audiences. Scammers have adopted robocalls as a tool because of this feature. Also, robocall numbers can be switched easily, making it difficult to track the purveyors. Due to its ubiquitous nature, consumers are used to receiving robocalls and scammers prey on that to gain their trust. Consumers are likely to let their guard down if they believe they are responding to legitimate robocalls.
Below are some actions you can take to reduce robocalls:
- Phone number lookup free services can confirm robocall numbers. Paid services can even block robocall numbers. Use these services to identify and deal with robocall numbers.
- Phone manufacturers and network operators offer tools and services to block spam calls. Make use of these tools to block robocall numbers.
- Include your phone number on any of the Do Not Call Lists available. The FTC maintains the National Registry, and the Missouri A.G’s Office maintains the Missouri List. Adding your number to these lists exempts it from receiving commercial robocalls. Any robocalls you receive after doing this are likely scam calls.
- End a call once you confirm it is a robocall. Ignore any prompts as these lead to more automated messages and robocalls.
- Report illegal robocalls to the FTC by calling 1 (888) 382-1222 or submitting online complaints.
Consumer guidelines on how to block unwanted calls are also available from the FTC.
How to Spot and Report St. Louis County Phone Scams?
Online services that perform suspicious phone number lookups answer questions like “who called me?” and “who is this number registered to?” Information retrieved from these services are useful in spotting potential scam calls. However, consumers are best served by knowledge and awareness when dealing with phone scammers as they are always finding new ways to defraud unsuspecting individuals.
Some indicators that an unknown caller is a potential scammer include:
- The caller offers free items and services, but you must make payments to collect or enjoy them. If you are offered a free item or prize, and the offer requires payment before you receive it, it is a scam offer.
- The caller makes repeated requests for your private information. Legitimate organizations do not ask for your private information on calls you did not initiate.
- The caller informs you of unfamiliar debts and insists on specific payment methods such as wire transfers and reloadable prepaid debit cards. Scammers typically use these methods because the funds they receive are practically untraceable.
- The caller insists that matters are time-sensitive to prevent you from contacting third parties for confirmations. They also never answer your questions satisfactorily.
- The caller gets hostile and uses threats of punitive actions to coerce you into complying with their demands. Real law enforcement agencies will not threaten you on a phone call to obtain your compliance.
Performing reverse phone searches by name, address, and number can retrieve information on the identities of phone scammers and reveal their scams. Government agencies are committed to protecting county residents from phone scammers and fraudsters. These include:
Missouri Attorney General’s Office - The Consumer Protection section of the A.G’s Office protects consumers from deceptive practices. Report incidences of scams to the A.G’s Office by calling (800) 392-8222 or submitting online complaint forms. The Missouri A.G also maintains the Missouri No-Call List. Residents of the county can add their phone numbers to this list to stop robocalls.
The St Louis County Police Department and other local police departments are the primary law enforcement agents in the county. Victims can file reports on scam incidences with their local law enforcement agencies.
St Louis County Prosecutor - The Prosecutor’s Office prosecutes perpetrators of scams and other shady practices within the county jurisdiction. Residents who have been victims of scams can visit the Prosecutor’s Office at 100 South Central Avenue, 2nd Floor, Clayton, MO 63105. Alternatively, they can call (314) 615-2600.
Federal Trade Commission - This is the federal authority responsible for protecting consumers from deceptive and fraudulent practices. The National Do Not Call Registry is an FTC’s initiative to protect consumers from unwanted calls. Phone numbers on the DNC register that continue to receive illegal robocalls are most likely being called by phone scammers.