BOSTON (CBS) – A parade of telemarketers and robocalls used to interrupt dinner and “Jeopardy” for Wendy and Jim Damoulakis. The Westborough couple is on the Do Not Call list but, like so many of us, their phone kept ringing.
The Federal Trade Commission admits they can’t stop all of these illegal calls so they held a contest last year: The Robocall Challenge.
“They said ‘there’s got to be somebody out there who has some creative ways to solve this problem,'” says Aaron Foss. He’s the winner of the contest and the man behind Nomorobo, as in No More Robocalls.
Jim and Wendy signed up as soon as they heard about it. “I think this service is really a brilliantly simple and elegant solution to this problem,” says Jim.
First, customers must check if their phone carrier is one of the dozens now compatible with the service — like digital phone lines from AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. Even if you use one of these phone companies, customers still need to confirm if the service has been upgraded to digital. Then, sign up for a feature called “Simultaneous Ring.” That allows your phone to ring at home and at the Nomorobo servers at the exact same time.
Right now, Comcast customers can only sign up by using the Xfinity Connect App (IOS | Android). Customers must then activate the Voice2Go feature. Follow this link for a good explanation of the current process.
“The service can detect high frequency calling patterns. So, for instance, if a robocaller is calling 1,000 people in a span of a couple of minutes that’s a red flag,” explains Foss. That red flag means the call will be blocked. Your home phone will still ring, but just once, and then Nomorobo hangs up on them. You’ll also still be able to see the Caller ID.
The service is free for residential landlines but business owners have to pay for the service. “For businesses it costs them real money. Every time an agent picks up the phone for one of these robocallers it costs the business money. So, businesses have to pay for the robocall blocking but consumers get it for free,” says Foss.
In order to get better at detecting and blocking these robocalls, Nomorobo does keep a log of all of incoming calls. They tell us that information is never shared or sold to anyone.
*Editor’s Note: We initially reported that RCN offers this service. RCN does not offer the feature at this time.
MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON