3 On Your Side: Stopping Robocalls

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We’ve all been there. You’re just about to sit down to dinner and get interrupted by another annoying robocall.

But as 3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan finds, inventors have come up with a way to cut off the calls before you even pick up.

If you have a phone, you’ve likely noticed an increase in those dreaded robocalls.

Now, software developer Aaron Foss has figured out a way to outsmart them.

He took first place in the Federal Trade Commission’s Robocall Challenge, with his invention, Nomorobo.

“I like to think of it as a mute button for robocalls,” said Foss.

So, how does it work?

“It uses a part of the phone system called simultaneous ring, and what that does is, it lets one phone number ring on multiple devices,” said Foss.

Foss says that enables Nomorobo to intercept every call and determine if it’s a robocall or a real caller.

If it’s a machine, the call is disconnected before you may even realize you have a call.

“It answers — as soon as you hear that ring, the call has already been picked up,” said Foss.

And Foss isn’t the only one seeking revenge on robocallers.

A company in Washington state is developing a product called Call Control Home. It’s a small box that sits by your phone which rejects known robocallers and telemarketers, effectively knocking out spam callers.

With the box expected to hit market early next year and Nomorobo available for free later this month, those unwanted calls could soon be a thing of the past.

For now, Foss says Nomorobo will only work with phone carriers like Fios, Optimum and Vonage — companies that offer that simultaneous ring feature. But he’s hoping consumer demand will soon convince larger companies to get on board.

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