‘Consumer Super Hero’ invents way to block robocalls

(WBAY) – You sit down to a nice, relaxing dinner when the phone rings.

So often, it’s another one of those robocalls, the inspiration for hundreds of thousands of consumer complaints each month.

“We’re running steady at 300,000 complaints every single month,” said Lois Greisman, Federal Trade Commission. “Sixty percent of them involve robocalls.”

The “Do Not Call” list isn’t stopping robocalls, so the FTC put out a “Robochallenge” to find a solution.

The winner of the first Robochallenge is Aaron Foss. The New Yorker is the brains behind Nomorobo.

“So they did a thing called the Robocall Challenge where they said, ‘Anybody out there who has never seen this problem, can you look at it with different eyes?’”

Foss continued, “They put up a $50 thousand prize. They picked me as the winner. I beat out 800 people with my entry Nomorobo.”

But the real winner here is consumers.

“Consumers love it. I get emails all the time from people saying these calls were just driving us crazy. Eight, ten, twelve of these calls a day,” Foss said.

This is how it works:

You sign up at the website http://www.nomorobo.com/.

You enter Nomorobo’s number in your phone system and it picks up the robocalls.

A feature called ‘simultaneous ring’ checks if the number is a known robocall number. Nomorobo answers and your phone stops ringing.

It’s important to note that Nomorobo works only for landline phones that work through an internet connection.

Foss says it doesn’t block the robocalls you may need.

“Police and fire alerts, tornado warnings, weather alerts, school closings, prescription reminders… Nomorobo allows all of those through. It only blocks the illegal calls,” Foss said.

Since its inception two years ago, Nomorobo claims to have stopped 44 million illegal calls.

Foss delivered his proof to the FCC.

“I printed out all of the call logs from 2014,” Foss said. “They were ‘anonymized’ so you couldn’t tell. It was every single blocked call. It took up 25 cases of paper.”

Foss has become one of the nation’s go-to-guys for a fix. He was invited to a recent FCC Robocall Workshop.

Tammy: “You’re like a consumer super hero!”

Foss: “I really take this position very seriously. I was a freelance programmer, like a tech guy… just liked solving problems I didn’t even know this problem was a big deal. It’s a huge problem, huge annoyance. Billions of dollars are scammed. Here I am the guy who can help. It’s just a great place to be!”

Foss wants people to know Nomorobo doesn’t share any personal information.

He makes money by sharing the numbers making illegal calls. Certain carriers and companies will pay for a list to get those numbers out of the system.


Nomorobo website: https://www.nomorobo.com/

FTC’s robocall information: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0025-robocalls

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