Unwanted Calls? Study Reveals You May Live in One of the Most Afflicted Cities

According to new data, certain cities in the U.S. are bigger targets for telemarketing and scam calls.
Maya Siman, Author
Catherine McNally, Editor
Last updated Oct 26, 2022

When the phone rings with an unsaved local number, it’s natural to want to pick up. In reality, you’re not likely to find a person on the other end of the line, or at least not one you want to talk to.

While all spam calls are annoying, they can also be incredibly dangerous. Phone scams can target anyone and often focus on members of more vulnerable populations. These scams not only jeopardize important personal information but are also costly and time-consuming to resolve for victims.

To help identify the biggest targets for scams and unwanted calls, our team at All About Cookies analyzed call data from YouMail, which operates patented apps that answer and block unwanted calls. For each U.S. city, we determined the number of unwanted calls, which includes scam attempts and telemarketing calls. Using this data, we’ve compiled the cities with the biggest unwanted calls problems and where you might be a target of a potential phone scam.

In this article
Key findings
Cities that get the most unwanted calls
Cities with the most frequent scam calls
Cities with the highest amount of calls
Bottom line
Methodology

Key findings

  • Phone scams account for more than 60% of all unwanted calls received by Americans.
  • Atlanta experienced the highest overall volume of unwanted phone calls, with an average of 45 calls per week.
  • New York City was among the top 10 cities for most overall scam attempts, yet experienced the lowest frequency per capita. Even so, NYC residents can still expect at least 1 phone scam attempt per week.

How many unwanted calls are Americans receiving?

Between telemarketers and scam attempts, Americans received over 30 billion unwanted calls from January 2021 to September 2022. More than 11 billion of these — 39.6% — were telemarketing calls where the caller attempts to sell a good or service over the phone, typically unsolicited.

Americans received 30.9 billion unwanted calls from January 2021 to September 2022, with scam calls accounting for 60.4% of unwanted calls.

However, sometimes these unwanted calls are more dangerous than just a telemarketer pestering someone trying to go about their day. More than 18 billion, or 60.4%, of the unwanted calls Americans received were phone scams.

Often, scammers will present a false scenario in order to receive money. Once paid, the victim usually isn’t able to get that money back. For instance, the caller on the other end of the line can pretend to be a member of an official government agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), threatening legal consequences if a given amount isn’t paid. Others may impersonate a charity, offer a “free” trial for a service, or pretend to be a debt relief or credit repair agency.

Cities that get the most unwanted calls

Between telemarketing and scam attempts, Atlanta residents receive the highest number of unwanted calls of any city in the U.S. The average Atlanta resident can expect an incredible 45 unwanted calls per week, more than twice the rate of any other city.

Baltimore has the second most frequent unwanted calls per capita, with the average resident experiencing nearly 18 calls per week.

Of the top ten cities, Raleigh, North Carolina, experienced the least frequent calls. While still inconvenient and annoying, Raleigh residents experienced only around 10 unwanted calls per week.

The top 10 cities with the most unwanted calls per capita were Atlanta, Baltimore, Tampa, Dallas, Miami, Cleveland, New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and Raleigh.

Ranking City Unwanted Calls Per Week (Per Capita)
1 Atlanta, Georgia 45.1
2 Baltimore, Maryland 18.9
3 Tampa, Florida 17.0
4 Dallas, Texas 16.5
5 Miami, Florida 14.3
6 Cleveland, Ohio 12.4
7 New Orleans, Louisiana 11.9
8 Detroit, Michigan 11.3
9 San Francisco, California 11.0
10 Raleigh, North Carolina 10.2

Cities with the most frequent scam calls

As mentioned, not all unwanted calls are dangerous. Looking only at dangerous scam attempts, Atlanta residents unsurprisingly still receive the most of any U.S. city.

An Atlanta resident can expect over 24 scam calls in a single week alone. Scam attempts are much more dangerous than telemarketing calls. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut way for an individual to discern whether a call will be a scam or not based on the incoming number alone.

Atlanta also experiences more than double the number of scam attempts than Baltimore, the city with the second most frequent scam attempts. Baltimore residents typically experience 10 scam calls weekly.

The top 10 cities with the most phone scams per capita are Atlanta, Baltimore, Tampa, Dallas, Miami, San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, New Orleans, and Raleigh.

Cities with the highest amount of calls

While some cities receive more frequent calls throughout the week, many are just more susceptible to a larger overall number of unwanted calls. Due to the city’s massive population, New York City is among the top 10 cities when it comes to the overall number of phone scam attempts. Yet, on a per capita basis, NYC actually has one of the lowest scam call rates in the country. Even then, however, an NYC resident can still expect at least 1 phone scam attempt per week.

Outside of the popular target of Atlanta, the rest of the top five cities with the most unwanted calls overall were Dallas, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles. Wichita, Kansas, received the lowest number of unwanted calls, with over 92 million calls coming through since January 2021.

You can find the full list of cities below:

City Per Capita Telemarketing Calls Annually Per Capita Scam Calls Annually Total Unwanted Calls Since January 2021
Atlanta, Georgia 1,091 1,262 2,041,474,643
Dallas, Texas 392 470 1,941,268,747
Chicago, Illinois 159 182 1,607,839,090
Houston, Texas 174 200 1,495,362,191
Los Angeles, California 95 121 1,450,212,438
New York, New York 45 52 1,438,119,546
Phoenix, Arizona 175 214 1,103,429,778
Baltimore, Maryland 449 536 992,980,865
San Francisco, California 278 357 905,224,479
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 143 165 849,060,492
Detroit, Michigan 280 311 653,655,126
Tampa, Florida 408 481 600,991,536
Charlotte, North Carolina 173 203 577,817,644
Miami, Florida 346 403 575,183,941
San Diego, California 99 123 534,665,244
Denver, Colorado 194 234 532,395,172
Seattle, Washington 173 217 500,769,757
San Antonio, Texas 86 110 496,427,359
Columbus, Ohio 143 161 480,551,033
Boston, Massachusetts 179 233 471,307,443
Memphis, Tennessee 195 216 450,804,129
Nashville, Tennessee 174 199 442,695,863
Raleigh, North Carolina 245 286 434,822,257
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 164 182 416,154,391
Las Vegas, Nevada 161 196 403,694,843
Cleveland, Ohio 291 333 401,169,820
Austin, Texas 107 129 398,740,025
Fresno, California 187 220 387,836,324
New Orleans, Louisiana 288 297 385,886,520
Indianapolis, Indiana 110 129 368,164,777
Virginia Beach, Virginia 204 246 359,617,757
Bakersfield, California 221 278 355,865,954
Sacramento, California 169 208 346,043,978
Jacksonville, Florida 94 106 334,130,213
Minneapolis, Minnesota 194 216 305,313,006
Tulsa, Oklahoma 176 203 272,551,769
Long Beach, California 134 164 237,108,852
Portland, Oregon 92 119 236,528,410
Louisville, Kentucky 94 111 225,364,537
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 102 116 217,692,515
Washington, District of Columbia 85 100 216,111,613
Omaha, Nebraska 104 118 189,368,244
Colorado Springs, Colorado 94 126 185,579,734
Kansas City, Missouri 96 104 177,653,413
Lexington, Kentucky 132 159 163,829,997
Albuquerque, New Mexico 70 82 149,542,156
Corpus Christi, Texas 117 134 139,060,811
Honolulu, Hawaii 90 98 113,388,624
El Paso, Texas 36 50 103,078,304
Wichita, Kansas 60 73 92,375,179

Bottom line

While spam calls may not be entirely preventable, there are many different programs such as YouMail available for download to curb the amount of calls coming in. Reporting them to your cell carrier can help companies improve upon software that blocks them from coming through. If you receive calls from a number you don’t recognize, always proceed with caution.

Methodology

All About Cookies studied internal data from YouMail’s Robocall Index. The overall number of calls within certain cities, the types of unwanted calls received, and the frequency of calls per capita were discerned from the data. The evaluated data covered January 2021 through September 2022.