You may have seen a recent article by Fox Business News that has been circulating claims about the top 10 states in terms of robocall volumes. In fact, MSN and Yahoo have picked up similar articles as well. While we’re thrilled that these publications are working to spread awareness on the robocall epidemic, we’re compelled to point out that their claims are basically false.

This Fox Business article “10 states where you’re most likely to get a robocall” claims the top 10 states to get robocalls are these:

  1. Nevada
  2. Colorado
  3. Arizona
  4. Oregon
  5. New Jersey
  6. Connecticut
  7. Virginia
  8. Maryland
  9. Florida
  10. Michigan

Wrong!

The problem is that this article based its report on the FTC complaint data for 2018 which computed a ratio of complaints per 100,000 people in each state. While the complaint data is likely accurate, complaint data is not an accurate measurement of robocalls, nor likeliness of receiving future robocalls.

The real order of states by robocall volume is here:

This data comes from our YouMail Robocall Index. The Robocall Index supplies the number of robocalls nationwide by observing the behavior of our over 10 million registered users of YouMail’s free robocall blocking app and then extrapolating that data.

The Robocall Index data shows that using the FTC complaint data to estimate robocalls doesn’t quite work. Just take a look at this comparison of the FTC complaint data side by side with the best estimate of per-capita robocall rankings provided by the Robocall Index.

The important difference between Fox’s list and our data is clear: there is almost no overlap in the top 10 states (other than Maryland and Florida). One of the most notable differences is that Nevada isn’t number one in receiving robocalls, but actually takes twelfth place (so sorry to take that championship away!).

So what exactly is causing the vast difference in these two lists?
Well, it turns out that some people are more sensitive to robocalls and therefore faster, more frequent complainers than others. Said another way, people in some states tough it out, and people in other states quickly pull the trigger!

There do seem to be some regional trends, like that the South seems to have a lower robocall to complaint ratio than other regions. For example, people in Louisiana seem to file a complaint with the FTC for every 1 in 22,000 robocalls (an extremely high tolerance to robocalls). Meanwhile, people in Oregon file a complaint after 1 in 3,500 robocalls. That means people in Oregon are over 6 times more likely to complain about robocalls than people in Louisiana! (Way to raise your voices, Oregon. And way to exercise patience, Louisiana.)

Here’s the full list of states and their robocalls per complaint ratio:

If you look at this list, you can see the states that are less likely to submit complaints to the FTC at the top of the list, and the states that submit complaints more quickly at the bottom of the list.

So, what have we learned?

Luckily, there are important lessons to be learned from their mistakes.
The first lesson to learn from this is that you can’t use complaint data as a proxy for robocall volume; it’s just not accurate. The other is this: if you’re looking for the most recent, reliable robocall data, go right to the authoritative source: YouMail’s Robocall Index.

More generally, don’t believe everything you read!

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