Md. and Va. are prime targets for robocalls — here’s why they may never stop

robocalls are seen on a cellphone
Robocalls can be annoying, especially on your cellphone. (WTOP/Will Vitka)

If it feels like no one gets as many robocalls as you do, you might be right: A recent study finds that Marylanders get the most robocalls in the country, and Virginians rank No. 8.

The average Maryland resident gets 18 robocalls a month, the study from LetsTalk found.

“The number of robocalls nationwide is up 1,500% over the last 18 months,” said Rob Shavell, the co-founder and CEO of Abine, an online privacy company. “It’s insane.”

The D.C. area is a target-rich environment, Shavell said, mostly because callers know “the center of the government is there, so a lot of these folks think … there’s an affluent base of targets to go mine.”

He added that there will probably be even more robocalls this year: Large amounts of data such as cellphone numbers have become much cheaper, and while the technology to use these numbers to make tens of thousands of call used to be costly and complicated, “now you can run it off a laptop basically for free.”

The government will try to come up with solutions, Shavell said, but it’s a problem that’ll never go away entirely.

The developers trying to thwart the scammers will say “it’s going to do something but it’s not going to be perfect,” Shavell said.

“Just like email, our phone system is designed to be an open network. You don’t have to give out your identity to call somebody. And anybody can hop on this network. As soon as they bust one of these scammers with one of those cheap autodialers … another one pops up somewhere. And they don’t have to necessarily be in the United States, which makes the problem even harder.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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