New Program Blocks Robocalls

By Stephania Jimenez
|  Saturday, Feb 1, 2014  |  Updated 12:57 AM EDT
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If robocalls are driving you crazy, there's a new way to silence them for good.

If robocalls are driving you crazy, there's a new way to silence them for good.

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Are you sick of robocalls? According to the Federal Trade Commission, about 100,000 pre-recorded telemarketing calls are reported each month. Now, there's a way for some of you to prevent them.

"When I hang up on them, they call right back," said Pamela Martin, of East Granby.

Martin told NBC Connecticut she's constantly getting robocalls on her home and cell phones.

"They even come as late as 9:30 at night, and start as early as 8:00 in the morning," she explained.

Automated telemarketing calls have been illegal since 2009. Only non-sales related robocalls from charities, political organizations, schools, doctors and pharmacies are allowed.

"They're illegal if you don't give your expressed written consent to receive those robocalls from that entity, even if you're not on the 'Do Not Call' list," said Kati Daffan, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC created the "Do Not Call Registry" 10 years ago.

"I've been on 'do not call' lists. It doesn't seem to work with robocalls," said Martin.

The FTC received more than one million complaints about robocalls last year.

"Many times, they're overseas, and they're just placing millions of these calls for a very low price," said Daffan.

In 2012, the FTC launched a robocall challenge, asking the public to come up with ways to block unwanted calls. Two people tied for the top prize; both had solutions to stop robocalls, but only one is on the market now. It's called Nomorobo. Aaron Foss, a software developer from Long Island, created it.

"I like to say that it kind of works like magic," said Foss.

Nomorobo uses a service called "simultaneous ring." When you get a call, that call also gets routed to Nomorobo. Nomorobo screens that number, and if it determines it's a robocaller, the call gets dropped.

"It's almost instantaneous. The only thing the user hears is one single ring in the house, and then it stops," said Foss.

"It rings once and then it doesn't ring anymore, and you're like, "yeah, take that," exclaimed Eric Giers, of Milford.

Milford has used Nomorobo for the past few months. He told NBC Connecticut that signing up was the best decision he's ever made. Now, when his phone rings, the person on the other line is a customer, not a robocaller.

"The calls just miraculously stopped," said Giers.

However, there are certain limitations with Nomorobo. Sometimes, robocalls slip through. If that happens, hang up. If the automated message asks if you'd like to be taken off their calling list, don't press anything.

"If consumers respond by pressing "1" or "2" to be removed from the list, they could just be letting the robocaller know that theirs is a working number.

Also, Nomorobo doesn't currently work on cell phones or landlines. The program only works on phones that have internet-based or what's called VoIP service. Fortunately, that's what Pamela Martin has.

"I'm going to try [Nomorobo], and see if we can put an end to this," said Martin.

Aaron Foss said he wants to expand Nomorobo, so that in the future, everyone can say goodbye to robocallers.

"I'm trying to find out how to make Nomorobo available to thick, copper landlines as well as mobile phones," said Foss.

To sign up for Nomorobo, visit: www.Nomorobo.com. The service is free.

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