(NEXSTAR) – Is your phone being flooded with spam calls, scammers and telemarketers lately? More than usual, that is. Odds are you live in one of the metro areas that saw an increase in robocalls last month.
According to data from YouMail, robocalls were on the rise in July in the following metro areas:
- Akron, Ohio
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Bakersfield, California
- Belleville, Illinois
- Bowling Green, Kentucky
- Charleston, West Virginia
- Fresno, California
- Greenville, South Carolina
- Evansville, Indiana
- Jackson, Mississippi
- Jonesboro, Arkansas
- Knoxville, Tennesse
- Los Angeles
- Macon, Georgia
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Sacramento, California
- St. Louis
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
That may seem like a long list, but the opposite is happening everywhere else in the country. Robocalls dropped 5% nationwide last month – a decline of more than 200 million calls. Experts suspect the decline is because of something called STIR/SHAKEN, an acronym that has nothing to do with cocktail making.
It’s a bit complicated, but basically the Federal Communications Commission is requiring phone providers to implement caller ID technology that makes it harder for spammers to spoof numbers (like when they make it seem a call is coming from your area code). The deadline for carriers was June 30, hence the big nationwide drop in July.
The cities that saw the biggest drops in robocalls (over 10%) in July include:
- Boise, Idaho
- Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
- Gainesville, Florida
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Killeen, Texas
- Newark, New Jersey
- Pensacola, Florida
- Orlando, Florida
- Salt Lake City
- Springfield Gardens, New York
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- West Palm Beach, Florida
Still, summer is high-time for spam calls, says Kent Welch, chief data officer at First Orion. The company creates scam protection and caller ID technologies.
“Remember that scammers are running a business, even if it is illegal,” says Welch. People reported losing $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020 to the Federal Trade Commission – and those are just the folks who reported it. Scammers reach most of their victims by phone, the FTC says.
Just like any business, scammers are always trying to get better at what they do. That means they look at data to track the best areas and times of day to target, says Welch. They also might be trying new ways to break through the STIR/SHAKEN technology.
Welch suggests a few tips to protect yourself from scammers:
- Don’t answer unknown numbers. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.
- This one may seem obvious, but don’t give out any personal information like your social security number or your birthday over the phone. And definitely don’t go along with a plan to send them payment. “If they ask for you to pay in a gift card or wire transfer, it’s definitely a scam,” says Welch. “The IRS doesn’t take iTunes gift cards!”
- If you get a call from someone claiming to be with your bank (or something like that), just hang up, look up your bank’s number and call them back. That way you know you’re speaking to your legitimate bank.
- If you hear a robotic voice asking you if you’d like to be placed on the “do not call list,” don’t fall for it. “Don’t press the button, don’t say yes – because that’ll put you on a list of active callers. Hang up.”
- Consider getting a call tagging/call blocking service and consider registering with the federal Do Not Call registry.
Check out YouMail’s full robocall report to see if robocalls are trending upward or downward in your area code.