The latest tool in the battle against solicitor calls is Nomorobo, which went live as of yesterday. The goal of ‘no more robo’ is ultimately preventing robocalls, those calls that the FTC Do-Not-Call lists were supposed to take care of (according to Gizmag, the FTC receives about 200,000 robocall complaints a month).
The service is free, but not many phone service carriers are compatible with it yet. If you have VoiP service with AT&T U-verse, Cablevision Optimum, SureWest, Verizon FiOS and Vonage you can sign up with Nomorobo. If not, the sign up form on the website says to ask your carrier service to add simultaneous calling, a requirement for Nomorobo to operate.
The system works much like the CAPTCHA system—those strangely formatted letters and numbers you are sometimes asked to retype when filling out an online form—to ensure that the user (or caller) is not a robot. You input your phone service with Nomorobo which triggers a simultaneous calling option. When set up with the service, calls to your phone ring first at Nomorobo. The caller is compared against a “blacklist” and if on the list, the call is blocked. Then, if the calling phone is highly active or exhibiting other robocall behavior, the caller is asked to type a number on their phone before being routed to you—again, think CAPTCHA, humans will type the required digits, robots won’t.
Beta testing over the past few months has reportedly blocked 80 percent of robocalls. The service also makes promises that legal robocalls such as school closings, medical calls and weather warnings will not be blocked.
The FTC is in favor of the invention. Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection says, "We're aware and extremely pleased that potential technological solutions to help consumers block unwanted, illegal robocalls are making their way to the marketplace.”
The FTC is so in favor, they sponsored a contest to solve the robocall problem, in which Nomorobo tied for first. Nomorobo is the brain child of Long Island software programmer Aaron Foss (also inventor of a dipping bowl for buffalo wings as well as a cancer treatment tool for children).
“People are screaming out for a solution," says Foss (pictured here). "I hope to make their lives a little bit better."
Foss admits that his first-generation invention may require adaptation as robocallers figure out the loopholes in his better mousetrap. And he’s not afraid of competition, “The more products that are out there to stop these calls and protect people from these scams, the better it is for everyone."[Image via Aaron Foss Twitter and Wikimedia Commons.]