If you are tired of robocalls, have no fear because Aaron Foss, a software programmer from Long Island has invented Nomorobo to block those annoying phone calls.
Nomorobo will screen calls before they reach your phone. If it detects a robocall, the computer hangs up on it before you get the second ring.
The free service started September 30 for customers who have VoiP service with AT&T U-verse, Cablevision Optimum, SureWest, Verizon FiOS and Vonage. You don’t need caller ID for this to work and the call information Nomorobo collects will be anonymous to protect your privacy.
Nomorobo promises that it won’t block legal robocalls which sometimes schools use for closings, or for doctor appointment reminders, prescription reminders and weather advisories.
“I think about it like email spam. If we try to stop spammers, it’s a battle we can’t win,” said Foss. “But we can get it and stop it in our spam boxes, and Nomorobo was designed after the same idea.”
Foss has been working non-stop on his invention since April, when he tied for first place and won $25,000 in the Federal Trade Commission’s Robocall Challenge. And since Nomorobo was announced as the co-winner of the FTC’s contest, nearly 23,500 consumers have signed up.
“We’re aware and extremely pleased that potential technological solutions to help consumers block unwanted, illegal robocalls are making their way to the marketplace,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Every month, the FTC receives around 178,500 consumer complaints about telemarketing and automated robocalls.
The National Do Not Call Registry, which lets consumers sign up their home phones and cellphones, helps block most – but not all – telemarketing calls. As of June 2013, there were more than 221 million numbers registered.
“DNC has been extremely successful when it comes to legitimate telemarketers,” said FTC’s Daffan, whose agency oversees the registry. “Legitimate companies scrub their lists against the DNC registry and do refrain from calling.”
Nomorobo’s algorithm uses caller ID and call frequency information to screen incoming calls. CNBC reported that for now, it’s using a database of 1.2 million phone numbers from complaints filed with state and federal regulators. Going forward, calls coming to subscribers will be added.
Since the launch, Nomorobo has experienced extremely heavy traffic and they state on their website to, “Please try again later if you get an error.” That doesn’t stop Foss though, he says he’s netted some venture capital and angel investor funds. He’s also working on a solution to let benign, lawful robocallers, such as emergency alerts, to get through Nomorobo.
He’s also planning to update the service with “value-added features,” which would let people ban, for example, political calls from coming through. “People are screaming out for a solution,” he said. “I hope to make their lives a little bit better.”
Death to Robocalls with Nomorobo
Sick of getting Robocalls? So is the FTC. Late last year they announced a $50,000 contest for anyone who can figure out the best tech solution to the robocall problem. Annie tells you about some of the interesting contest entries as well as the winner of the robocall challenge – Nomorobo!