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FTC's 'Robocall Challenge' Winning Solution Nomorobo Will Go Live Sept. 30
If fraudulent robocalls are the bane of your existence – and for many people, they are – there may be a solution coming soon, thanks to last year’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC (News - Alert)) “Robocall Challenge,” a crowdsourcing appeal for solutions to the problem.
Robocalls, or automated outbound telephone calls, are helpful in some instances. They can remind us of appointments or prescription refills, inform us of school closings or flight delays, and even remind us to pay bills (if we agree to receive them). But they are a highly abused technology: fraudsters spoof their calling number, and place millions of calls without obtaining permission first from consumers in order to try and hawk financial services, credit monitoring, security systems and more.
Experts have been telling us that the only remedy we have is to hang up and never press any buttons – not even if the call promises to put you on a do-not-call list. Pressing buttons simply informs the calling party that it has located a “live” number, and the calls will never stop. While the FTC and FCC (News - Alert) have arrested and fined some players placing fraudulent robocalls, it never seems to stem the tide.
Beginning Sept. 30, some consumers will have a new option to fight back in the form of one of the winning solutions of the FTC’s “Robocall Challenge.” Aaron Foss, a free-lance software designer, has developed a solution called “Nomorobo” that may help stem the tide. Consumers will be able to visit the website www.Nomorobo.com and will be prompted to answer a few questions about their phones and which carriers they use. The site will then walk them through steps they need to complete registration with the service.
Here’s how it works: it uses a feature that is available on many phones that allows consumers to route an incoming route phone call to all of their phones at once. By registering with Nomorobo, you’ll be telling your phone to ring the Nomorobo phone number as well. Once the solution detects patterns in outbound calling (thousands of calls from the same number at once, which means it’s likely a robocall), it will identify and “blacklist” that number. If a robocalls is detected, it disconnects the call before it even rings.
Essentially, it’s looking for calling patterns typical to robocalls, and when it finds one, it cuts off the call before it can even begin.
Houston’s News92 FM reports that the service will be initially available only for voice over IP (VoIP) phones, but will eventually be rolled out to land-line phones and mobile phones. According to Foss, the system isn’t completely fool-proof, but real-life testing has found that Nomorobo blocks between 80 and 90 percent of unwanted robocalls.
Enjoy the silence.
Edited by Alisen Downey