COLUMBUS, Ohio—Earlier this week, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asserted that Ohioans received 2.2 billion robocalls last year. But where did that statistic come from?
It’s an estimate from YouMail, a California-based call-blocking company. The company counted the number of robocalls received by the approximately 350,000 customers who have numbers with Ohio area codes, then extrapolated a statewide estimate based on the Buckeye State’s estimated population of about 11.7 million people, according to YouMail CEO Alex Quilici. YouMail counts both legal robocalls – such as a doctor’s appointment reminder or school closing notification – and illegal unsolicited spam calls.
“It’s just pretty simple math to do the ratio and the multiplier,” Quilici said.
Quilici said he didn’t know offhand how many YouMail customers have Ohio area codes, though he said generally they make up between 1 percent and 8 percent of phone traffic in a given area. While that means YouMail might be counting robocalls made to an Ohio native now living in, say, New York, Quilici said his company “doesn’t think that’s a big source of error because it works the other way, as someone with a New York area code could be in Ohio.”
During January and February of 2020, YouMail estimates that 374.9 million robocalls were made to phones with Ohio area codes. That averages about 30.1 robocalls per phone with an Ohio area code during those two months, or approximately one robocall every two days.
That’s about average compared with other states, Quilici said.
People in urban areas tend to sign up for YouMail in slightly greater numbers than those in rural locales, Quilici said, adding that robocallers tend to target areas of the country that have more low-income people.
Since Yost’s office set up a Robocall Enforcement Unit within his office on Wednesday, Ohioans have reported in 3,136 robocalls as of Friday afternoon, according to AG spokesman Dominic Binkley.
Binkley said he didn’t immediately know how many people made those reports.