News alert: Incogni study reveals overwhelming majority of spam calls originate locally

Los Angeles, Calif., Jan. 17, 2024 – Spam calls continue to be a major nuisance in the US, and advice on how to avoid them abound.

Incogni’s latest research challenges prevalent assumptions about spam calls, revealing that traditional advice on avoiding specific area codes is largely ineffective. The study, based on the latest data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, a staggering 59.81% of all unwanted calls originate from local numbers within the recipient’s state.

An in-depth study of the FTC data debunks the notion that certain area codes reliably signify spam. Incogni’s researchers found that spam area codes vary widely from state to state, discrediting the widely circulated lists suggesting specific area codes to avoid. Even well-known recommendations like area code 216 for Cleveland, Ohio, or 469 for Dallas, Texas, do not align with the datareported to the FTC.

Incogni’s research reveals that the top ten reported spam area codes differ significantly from state to state. Even neighboring states like California and Colorado exhibit a 100% variance in their reported spam area codes.

In addition to the variance in reported spam area codes, Incogni’s research sheds light on the prevalence of toll-free numbers. The study reveals a distinct trend where toll-free numbers, starting with 833, 888, 855, 800, 866, and 844, consistently emerge as common sources of unwanted calls nationwide. Unlike the state-specific variation observed in local area codes, these toll-free numbers are the only ones to transcend state borders.

The study sheds light on the prevalence of “neighbor spoofing,” where spammers intentionally manipulate their numbers to mimic local area codes, capitalizing on the trust associated with local calls.

With no universal catalog of spam area codes, Incogni advocates for a proactive approach to combating spam. The study underscores the importance of digital hygiene, urging individuals to secure their personal data online. Hope for the future, Incogni suggests, lies in comprehensive data protection laws coming into effect to curtail spam effectively.

Incogni’s researchers sought out and downloaded yearly Daily Data Files from the FTC’s Do Not Call (DNC) registry, a database listing the phone numbers of individuals who have requested not to be contacted by telemarketers.

The data represents 286,250 reports submitted to the Federal Trade Commission from 16th October to 8th December, 2023. Incogni researchers combined all the information into one database. Reports without a telephone number for the advertiser, or telephone numbers reported as “111111111” or “0” were removed from the database.

The full text of the study as well as images are available here: https://blog.incogni.com/spam-area-codes

Google drive with data used in this research, images, press release are available here: Spam area codes

About Incogni: Incogni is a leading data privacy company offering an automated data removal tool, with a mission to empower internet users to take control of their personal information online.

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