Aaron Foss of Nomorobo: We Have the Power to Block Robocalls Now!
Public Policy Fellow
Robocalls aren’t just a fact of life that we have to accept. With pressure from consumers like you, we can get the phone companies to take control over robocalls.
One of the robocall-blocking options currently on the market is called Nomorobo. The creator, Aaron Foss, developed the software to compete in the Federal Trade Commission’s first Robocall Challenge to build an effective robocall blocker. There were approximately 800 eligible submissions – showing that if phone companies put their minds to it, they could develop real solutions to the robocall problem. Foss shared first place, winning a $25,000 prize. Last week, the End Robocalls team met Foss.
How does Nomorobo work? Foss blocks suspicious numbers that he identifies in several ways. These include numbers that have been reported to him or to the Federal Trade Commission, and those flagged by an algorithm that analyzes call patterns to locate suspicious calls.
Once a call is identified as suspicious, the caller has the chance to verify that it is a human, for example by dialing a number. If it cannot do so, the call is zapped. The phone will ring once, and if the consumer doesn’t hear another ring, the call has been blocked. According to Foss, Nomorobo stops an estimated 87% of unwanted robocalls.
If you’re concerned that legitimate robocalls will be blocked, Foss says that you can report those numbers directly to him so that they can be “whitelisted.” He claims his error rate for unjustly blocked numbers is currently .18%.
Because the phone carriers won’t work with Nomorobo, only a limited number of consumers have access to the service. Only subscribers of certain VoIP plans, like AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS Digital Voice, and Vonage – can now get Nomorobo.
We haven’t tested Nomorobo, and we don’t know whether it will work for you. There are a number of call-blocking devices on the market to block calls to your home phone, and free apps that will help protect your Android phone. Click here to learn more about some of these other options. Soon, with your help, we’ll be testing some of these call-blockers. Still, we think phone companies are in the best position to address the robocall problem. Please sign our petition to the top phone companies to offer free tools that block robocalls!
We want to know what you think about the call-blocking services or devices on the market. If you’ve tried one, we’d love to hear about your experience!