As a politician, I have not been above the occasional robo call, but as a consumer, I get how annoying they are.
The Boston Globe recently did a story on a service offered through nomorobo.com which causes robo calls not to ring through to your house. We’ve signed up for it at our house and it seems to work well.
Here’s the concept behind it. If you have a digital phone service — like Verizon FIOS or Comcast XFinity — it is likely to include the capability to cause several other numbers to ring whenever someone calls your phone. Whichever phone number gets picked up first will get the call. To set up nomorobo, you add a phone number to your list of additional numbers that will ring, and it will automatically pick up robocalls before you even hear them. It has a database of numbers that robocalls originate from and uses that to decide which calls to pick up. If, for some reason, they pick up a call that from a live person, the live person can press certain buttons to get through. It took us just a few minutes to set up and it seems to be working very well.
The creator of the service won a prize from the Federal Trade Commission for the concept. See also the New York Times, February 2014.
Now available for mobile
Info here. The mobile app is a paid service.
Thanks for this tip on a solution to robocalls. They bother us a lot!
Unfortunately this seems to only work for cell phones on Xfinity at this time, but hopefully as more people learn about it Comcast will roll out compatibility to all phones they service. Thanks for the tip!
I have Verizon for land line and cell flip phone.
I get robocalls all day every day.
Is there a way to block them with Verizon?
It does work on Verizon FIOS, which is what I have, but I believe it does not work for Verizon traditional service.
I’ve been using Nomorobo for over a year. I have Verizon FiOS and it works, but not perfectly. When a robocall comes in, my home phone rings once, then I hear some faint buzzing noises from a distant phone before the call vanishes. Better than the multiple rings and possible voicemail messages I used to get. I have calls to my home phone ring on my cell phone too. When a robocall arrives, my cell usually but not always doesn’t ring.
I bought my mom a new cordless phone for Christmas (Panasonic). The instructions implied there was a setting that worked with call-blocking services to suppress the ring. (Maybe it just only starts ringing on the 2nd ring signal, giving Nomorobo a chance to terminate the call?) If this works, a new phone might be an option. Perhaps all new phones have this feature; my phones are about 5 years old.
Finally, I think the multiple phone forwarding feature can be used on traditional copper-wire land-lines, but it is usually an extra-cost option with traditional analog phones, but is bundled in free with most digital (FiOS and Comcast) phone service. I don’t know if Nomorobo works with this.
I get about 4 robocalls per week so see this as a promising development. I went to the nomorobo site for an explanation of how it works, but it’s very opaque and there’s too much hand-waving as they push you to sign up without disclosing any details – for example, what their business model is.
That aside, I wanted to know what actually happens when robocalls are intercepted. Does nomorobo just hang up or issue a busy signal? If a human’s call is answered, are they told their call is being blocked? Can a user unblock a site? How can mistakes in the blacklist be corrected?
Finally, what might prevent nomorobo from answering or listening in on *any* call to a line that uses the service? Seems like an ideal way to tap a phone with the owner’s permission, and I’ll bet their terms of service don’t prohibit them from incidental or consequential overhearing of private conversations.
You’re a lawyer, Will. Wouldn’t you like to know how the company intends to safeguard users from such potential abuses and glitches? If you learn more, please let us know.
Re Terms of Service, Article III at https://www.nomorobo.com/pages/privacy is your basic shrink-wrapped software license agreement. It does not address privacy of intercepted calls, only of users credentials and online activity, and does not warranty any specific measures of quality of service. Nor does it say what call records they keep or what might become of them. Not comforting.
Hi Geoff, I wondered about the business model too — apparently, he intends to charge businesses for the service.
As to what happens to a call, the New York Times story above says:
The privacy concern is a fair one, but I’m pretty sure he can only pick up a call, not listen to a call I pick up.
Thank you Will.
Useful service! Anyone reading who uses Google Voice can use Settings > Call > Global Spam Filtering. Blocks about 90% of robo and unsolicited commercial calls for me.
I have been receiving 4 to 5 robo calls per day, sometimes before 9:00 am. Yesterday, after the Globe article, I programed my phone following Nomorobo instructions. I am waiting to see if I receive any robo calls today.
Thank you Senator for sending out this information.
Nomorobo has been helpful. One correction though. The phone generally rings once for a robocall. They pick it up and disconnect the call before it rings a second time.
I am also considering having Verizon block all calls in which the caller has obscured their identity. Unfortunately this would probably block robocalls from the Town and School.
Lucky for you FiOS digital voice is available at your location but it isn at mine. I’m still stuck with “Rachel”.
Will — Thanks — this is a big help.
Sounds really good, although if it would block out calls from the city, for example for emergencies, that would be a problem. Would it?
Supposedly, it won’t, but we’ll report our experience.
Thank you so much for this hint. Robo calls are the pits!
Tried to sign up but unfortunately it is not supported by Verizon.
Verizon FIOS does work.
We have used nomorobo.com and it works. It won’t screen out all spam calls, but it stops quite a few of them. Their website indicates that the telephone industry is seeking to get the FCC to void call blocking services such as this.
I spend days getting it set up with on my comcast landline and it STILL does not work the Nomo Robo number they gave to forward mine to results in a busy signal to ALL incoming calls. Their customer service is the worst ever, they never respond and there are no customer service persons to speak to .. do yourself a favor and find some other way to block you calls
My experience having set it up (with Verizon Fios) has been good so far. Only a few minutes to set up and huge decrease in unwanted calls. I was pleased that Belmont’s reverse 911 about the storm did come through OK.
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