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HBO late-night host John Oliver called out the FCC on his show last week for the robocall problem plaguing American cellphones, drawing nationwide attention to the problem that almost every American is dealing with. 

Expand chart
Data: Robocall Index, American Community Survey; Map: Harry Stevens/Axios

Why it matters: It's one of the most complained-about issues in America. The FCC gets roughly 200,000 complaints each year about robocalls. Nearly 48 billion robocalls were made in 2018, according to YouMail Robocall Index.

Driving the news: While the problem impacts almost every cellphone user in America, data from Robocall Index shows that area codes from certain parts of the country are much more likely to be used for robocalls. 

How it works: Robocalls from certain areas in the U.S. don't necessarily reflect where the originator of the call is coming from. Often scammers use a very popular technique called "neighbor spoofing," in which they copy the area codes of local jurisdictions to make it more likely that people will pick up the phone.

  • Washington, D.C., has a high population of robocalls to its population because scammers often pretend to be calling on behalf of government agencies like the IRS or ICE.
  • Robocall area codes also tend to reflect highly-populated areas. Some regions, like Atlanta, and parts of the Southeast region of the U.S. and southern border states also have high percentages of robocalls mimicking those area codes.
  • This could be, according to a telecom source who works very closely on the robocall issue, because robocallers tend to target vulnerable populations, like older people, immigrants and minorities.

The big picture: The FCC has prioritized the problem and has introduced new standard to tackle robocalls last month. Most of the major wireless carriers have committed to implementing standards that verify if a call is real or if it comes from a computer.

Go deeper: New efforts could reduce robocalls over the next few years

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.