New FTC Robocall Challenge Winner, RoboKiller, Attacks Robocalls

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Watch out, robocall scammers – there’s a new app, RoboKiller, that could put a stop to many of those pesky robocalls.

Created by Ethan Garr and Brian Moyles, RoboKiller just won the Federal Trade Commission’s latest robocall contest, Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back. Garr and Moyles were awarded a $25,000 prize. Contestants were asked to create software to automatically detect and stop robocalls from reaching the consumer, and forward them to system known as a “honeypot” for analysis.

The End Robocalls team recently spoke to Garr about the app. According to Garr, RoboKiller automatically filters calls featuring a recorded voice and places them in “junk” folders, similar to the junk folder in your email inbox.

The app works through the call forwarding service on your phone. Incoming calls are sent to the app, which answers the call for a few seconds, analyzes it, and uses an algorithm to decide whether it should be sent directly to you or sent to voicemail.

Consumers can mark the robocalls they want to receive, like emergency alerts, as legitimate so that they will ring through as usual. In the future, Garr says, users will be able to easily whitelist all of their contacts.

The app won’t protect consumers from all unwanted calls. Right now, the device doesn’t screen live scammers who contact you using an autodialer – though Garr points out that autodialers may disconnect during the call analysis. And, while the app protects home phones, consumers also need a smartphone to use it. Still, the new app is a promising new tool that could protect consumers from robocall scammers.

Garr says that “[it] would be relatively simple” for phone companies to offer their product to their customers. In the meantime, the RoboKiller team has released their beta app to the Apple App Store.

This is exactly the type of innovative thinking that the phone companies should be doing. Phone companies should make free, effective tools to block robocalls available to all consumers. We applaud Garr and Moyles for showing that it’s possible to create these kinds of tools.

Please sign our petition to the phone companies to make these tools like RoboKiller available to consumers for free! And, if you want more information about unwanted calls, check out the FCC’s guide.

Update: Consumers Union recommends that consumers closely evaluate what kind of information they’re willing to disclose to prevent robocalls, so review the privacy policy before signing up for any call-blocking app or service.

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2 responses to “New FTC Robocall Challenge Winner, RoboKiller, Attacks Robocalls”

  1. Floyd Police says:

    Thanks for giving your ideas. I might also like to convey that video games have been actually evolving. Technology advances and inventions have made it simpler to create sensible and interactive games. All these entertainment video games were not really sensible when the actual concept was first being attempted. Just like other designs of electronics, video games also have had to develop by many ages. This itself is testimony to the fast growth of video games.

  2. timothy says:

    What can I do about these pesky India thieves that come up with a new scam every month? They are now using Bridgette at card services as their newest scam. They also have an Ohio state police department donation scam that showed a Canada address on my caller ID. Fire and rescue donations is another recording they play. Same thieves that are running the fake Microsoft computer repair scheme by telling me my computer is infected. I always reply by saying “No, my computer is not infected. I work for Microsoft’s Data Security Team and I now have your I.P. address, please stay on the line.” They can’t hang up fast enough.

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