Aaron Foss, founder and CEO of Telephone Sciences Corp., is trying to build a business around his “Nomorobo” service, which prevents unwanted robocalls from reaching the consumer.
Last October, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a contest for developers to build an easy-to-use system to block unsolicited robocallers. Foss’ cloud-based Nomorobo service won the FTC Technology Achievement Award and a $50,000 prize.
Nomorobo detects high-frequency calling patterns and calls that were auto-dialed. Nomorobo also compares the caller’s number to an FTC blacklist and hangs up on blacklisted numbers.
When Nomorobo is uncertain, it prompts the caller with a “CAPTCHA” test. If the caller passes, the call goes through, but if the caller fails, the number is added to the blacklist.
Nomorobo can also detect legitimate automated call services, such as school cancellations or medical appointments, and it lets those calls go through.
Phone carriers did not want to cooperate with Nomorobo, which made it difficult for Telephone Sciences Corp. to offer the service to consumers.
“Instead of fighting, I decided to go around them,” Foss explained in a New York Business Journal article. “I piggybacked off a service that they already offered, simultaneous ring. When consumers add Nomorobo’s phone number to their simultaneous ring list, Nomorobo is able to answer and quickly hang up [on] robocalls for them.”
Foss believes that matters have to get worse before the carriers will feel the need to comply and offer a service like Nomorobo.
“Consumers can use the service for free but businesses have to pay… [F]or businesses, robocalls cost them a significant amount of resources… They are more than happy to pay for a service that reduces their costs.”
Ten months after the contest, interest in the service continues to grow. Over 125,000 consumers use the Nomorobo service, according to Foss. Nomorobo has stopped nearly 4.6 million robocalls.
Photo: Nomorobo/Courtesy photo/Aaron Foss, founder and CEO, Telephone Sciences Corp.