Americans suffered a whopping 50 billion robocalls in 2021

Ruth C. | January 24, 2022

A robocall is an automated telephone call that uses auto-dialing software to deliver a pre-recorded message to its recipients. At best, robocalls can be annoying, bombarding you with unsolicited ads. However, at worst, robocalls can end up defrauding you. One thing is clear — nowadays, it is nearly impossible to escape them.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, US residents suffered a whopping 50.5 billion robocalls in 2021 — a 10% increase from 2020. On average, each affected person in the US received around 154 such calls the previous year. 

The data is based on the Robocall Index by YouMail, which extrapolates the data collected from calls made to YouMail users.

If we look at the historical data of robocalls, we can see that their number has been steadily growing from 2016 up to 2019, when they reach a record 58.5 calls per year. In 2020, during the pandemic due to the closing of call centers, the number of robocalls in the US plummeted by over a fifth (22%) to 45.9 billion. 

However, the number of robocalls has been climbing once again since then. All in all, 262.3 billion robocalls were received by US residents from 2016 to 2021.

Texas, California, and Florida residents most affected by robocalls in 2021

While residents of all US states received their share of robocalls last year, some were affected more than others.

Texas residents endured the most robocalls out of all the states in 2021.  In total, they experienced 5.8 billion robocalls, an almost 12% rise from 2020. Dallas got 1.8 billion robocalls, the biggest share out of all cities in Texas, with Houston following not far behind with 1.4 billion.

The US most populous state California comes in second on the list. Overall, close to 4.6 billion robocalls were directed at Californians in 2021. Compared to 2020, last year saw only a slight 1% increase in robocalls. Los Angeles residents suffered the most, receiving 1.35 billion robocalls.

Florida occupies the third spot on the list with 4.1 billion robocalls.  Compared to 2020, such calls rose by 10% in the sunshine state last year. The most affected city in Florida was Orlando, with 636.7 million robocalls.

Other states in the top ten based on the number of robocalls in 2021 include Georgia (3.1 billion), New York (2.6 billion), North Carolina (2 billion), Ohio (1.9 billion), Illinois (1.85 billion), Tennessee (1.8 billion), and Pennsylvania (1.75 billion).

How to protect yourself from robocalls

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), robocalls are the number one complaint by consumers. While it might be impossible to avoid robocalls entirely, there are a few ways you can minimize the chances of falling for a robocall.

Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. It is nearly impossible to tell if the number calling you is spoofed. The surest way to protect yourself from robocalls is never to answer calls from unknown numbers in the first place. Better let them go to the voice message. If you do happen to answer a call from a robocall, hang up immediately.

Do not engage. By taking action, such as answering the questions proposed by the bot or following the bot's instructions, you signal the scammers that your phone number is in use, and you may get even more robocalls in the future. What is more, scammers might record your answers and use your voice or information to commit fraud.  

Report robocalls. If you receive suspicious robocalls, you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission to help the authorities keep track of illegal robocall users. FTC works with phone companies on solutions to more effectively block such calls in the future.

Ruth C.

Ruth C.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.

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