If you’re tired of robo calls and caught in the web of spoofed telephone numbers, Nomorobo might be the app for you. It is for us. It’s one product to help you manage your telephone.
For most of us, robocalls are a major annoyance. Even when you don’t pick up the phone, they ring and ring until your answering machine picks it up, and then you need to follow whatever instructions your answering machines provide to get rid the message.
For many others, however, robocalls are an expensive trap. Scammers posing as IRS agents steal millions every year, despite regular warnings from the real IRS that its agents will never contact you by phone if you owe them money. They send a letter first, and they tell people that if they have questions about whether they owe taxes, they should call the IRS toll-free phone number.
At one time, you could register your phone number with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to block robocalls and telemarketers representing companies with which you did not have a relationship. But VOIP (voice over internet protocol) technology made it cheap and easy for scammers operating outside the US to make long-distance calls that look like domestic calls. Essentially, the same technology that gives you a free Google Voice number gives scammers and thieves the ability to reach you under false pretense. How ridiculous can it get? You can get a call from a device identified as your own phone.
As phone carriers and the FCC went ‘round and ‘round in pointing fingers and passing along suggestions for the “other side,” the logjam broke when the FCC allowed the phone companies to block robocalls. One of the industry’s concerns was that it would block legitimate phone numbers, including those used by emergency-notification organizations.
Here’s where Nomorobo stepped in to fill the breach. It won a $25,000 cash prize from the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 for figuring how to stop robo calls. The system reroutes calls to your phone number to a service that checks the incoming phone number against a database that whitelists the good guys and blacklists the bad guys. Once you sign up for Nomorobo, you need to wait until the second ring to pick up the phone. Nomorobo uses the first ring to check the incoming number against its database. If you don’t get a second ring, then you know a robo call was blocked.
In a perfect world, good calls, such as those from emergency-related organizations get through. Of course, the world is not perfect, but it is “trainable.” If you experience any problems, such as a school closing or a call from a hospital, you can report it at www.nomorobo.com/report under “A Valid Number That Was Blocked Incorrectly” and correct the database. The service won’t block charity calls, but it can block political calls. You can enable or disable this feature by clicking “Edit” next to your number.
Nomorobo is free for landlines, and it supports most carriers. It has an iOS app that costs $1.99 per month, and it plans to have an Android app soon. The company has an online help desk that covers most questions users would have about using its system or deleting it.
Nomorobo has plenty of company in the robo-blocking space, and you might find one you like better. One place to start your search is the CTIA website product listings. CTIA represents many wireless telecom companies in the US. If you have any questions about selecting a call blocker or installing on a landline or mobile device, we’re here to help. Just call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us.