The constant chorus of phone calls (“your account has been compromised” and “your car warranty has expired”) became a backdrop to your life. It’s a “hit a mole,” game, he said. “I have 54 numbers blocked on my phone … and it’s programmed to mute calls that aren’t in my contacts or that I haven’t called.” Still, calls keep coming.
“It’s definitely an issue with a broad awareness,” Walsh said.
Zach Rau, who also lives in Baton Rouge and works in public finance, agrees. “When one arrives, I just reject the call and dedicate myself to the day,” he said. “The absolute worst comes out with a fog horn to say you’ve won a cruise.”
While it’s not known why Baton Rouge specifically and some southern states receive more calls than others, telecommunications experts believe there are several contributing factors, including a touch of southern hospitality that can lead people to pick up the phone more often.
“Scammers measure metrics of success just like any good business,” said Kush Parikh, president of Hiya, a service that provides profile information to some telecom companies to help consumers identify incoming calls and block those that don’t. they wish. “The south tends to be more affected because scammers are more successful there. In general, it is rural, neighborhood and hosts more vulnerable populations.”
He said people in the south are more likely to answer a call from an unknown number, especially if it looks like a local number, which is called “neighbor counterfeiting,” a common scam tactic. “Higher response rates tend to result in higher success rates for scammers,” Parikh said.
Scammers are also more likely to target vulnerable populations. “Seniors and immigrants are often targets of scammers because they often have unique and unfamiliar situations regarding the areas that scammers exploit, including the medical, financial, and legal situation,” Parikh said. “Non-native English speakers are also more susceptible to these scams, as language can cause more confusion. This makes it simpler for scammers to confuse them and convince them of a scam.”
Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, said the scammers will also target areas with financial problems, because people will be more receptive to dubious calls they promise to save. “Southern cities with large pockets of poverty and unemployment will receive many more calls than those who do not answer the phone and / or are doing well,” he said. “These areas are also often affected by more Medicaid, Medicare, labor scams or telemarketing calls. Scammers will try to grab the little money people have; they’re not usually targeted at rich areas.”
One could also play a level of technological savings on people living in certain cities; more educated people about automatic calling may have call barring technologies. But even those who are reasonably tech savvy can still find themselves receiving and answering automatic calls.
“I don’t answer calls from unrecognized numbers and my iPhone will now say‘ probably a scam ’, which is useful,” said Jared Brown, a retail manager living in Baton Rouge. “But I’ve also been applying for jobs out of state, so sometimes I’m more hesitant not to respond in case I miss an opportunity.”
“With everything going on with Covid, I’m always a little worried that something horrible has happened … so I take a risk and see his area code,” Johnson said. Although he said he received fewer calls last spring and summer due to calls from the call center, since then “they have returned with a real revenge this year.”
Although important work has already been done to combat unwanted calls, it remains an element of life in the country’s capital.
“After a while we fell asleep,” Rau said. “It just happens to be a part of everyday life, so we may not realize how much it really has.”
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