Do you get a little pang of anxiety whenever your phone gets called from an unfamiliar, unlisted phone number? Personally, I always do. These calls could be from an important business contact, so I try to answer them when I can. But more often than not, they’re just nuisance spam calls.
Thankfully, there are ways to spot a spam call before you pick up the phone. Recently, the folks at Whitepages analyzed the 2.5 billion calls and texts routed through its Caller ID app to look for patterns that might identify telemarketers. They found that some area codes are home to far more spam callers than others, and came up with a listing of the top 10 spam area codes in the United States.
Aside from the popularly used toll-free number exchanges (800, 866, 877, 888, 855), the top spam area code is Detroit’s 313. Houston’s 713, Fort Lauderdale’s 954 and Atlanta’s 404 are also popular homes to telemarketer phone banks. The full list is as follows:
1. 313 – Detroit
2. 713 – Houston
3. 954 – Fort Lauderdale
4. 404 – Atlanta
5. 484 – Eastern and Southeastern Pennsylvania
6. 407 – Orlando
7. 214 – Dallas
8. 202 – Washington, D.C.
9. 972 – Dallas
10. 205 – Birmingham
These cities aren't necessarily home to more spammers and scammers than others — just their phone exchanges are. These days, it’s easy for people to register and use phone numbers in virtually any area code regardless of location, so long as numbers are left available. A shrinking city like Detroit has a large number of unused phone numbers in its 313 bank, so there are plenty of lines for spammers to access. An established area code like New York City’s prestigious 212, meanwhile, has no phone numbers left to be registered and is thus is an unlikely source for telemarketing calls.
There are a wide number of technological solutions for stopping telemarketers beyond avoiding calls from a certain area code. Registering your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov is the best place to start. Smartphone owners can also download the Truecaller app, which automatically flags calls from known spammers. You should check out our How to Block Telemarketers guide for more tips, apps and carrier options. And, of course, the best offense is always a good defense, so be aware of the top 7 ways telemarketers get your cell phone number.
[Upset woman on phone via Shutterstock]