Steve is an avid Reddit contributor and reader, and when the proverbial stuff hit the fan a few months ago that PayPal was going to start robocalling its customers, Reddit was on fire about the topic. Since then PayPal dropped the idea. Anyway, Steve was reading the rants on Reddit and someone mentioned a service called Nomorobo that they swore almost eliminated robocalls to their house.
Now I’m sure that you think you get a lot of robocalls at your house, but you really truly do not know how horrible it is until you’re home all day like we are since we retired. We get calls CONSTANTLY. You miss so many of them because they hang up and don’t leave a message. Sure it’s easy to skip the ones that have their name showing on the phone but it’s still annoying as all get out. And yes, we’re on the Do Not Call list which is a joke, I really think maybe the robocallers BOUGHT that list and use it to make their calls! One of my favorites is the American Red Cross. Sure I signed up and give blood but does that give them to right to call me three times a week? I’ve asked them politely not to call me, I’ve asked them impolitely, I’ve asked them with venom and anger, and I even threatened to tell them that I had some horrible blood disease if it would just get me off their gosh darned list! They called me again the next day.
Steve decided to check into the service he’d read about, Nomorobo over at nomorobo.com. They are a free service that screens all calls made to the phone number you specify and compares each call to an extensive blacklist of phone numbers associated with illegal robocallers. If the incoming call is on the blacklist, Nomorobo picks up the call so it rings only once at the specified phone. If it rings twice or more, you know it’s not a robocall and you can pick up the call normally.
Nomorobo does not block legitimate robocalls such as doctor’s office, prescription reminders, school closings, weather advisories. It only blocks illegal robocallers. Nomorobo’s blacklist of phone numbers is extensive and current since it is updated by inputs from Nomorobo users. The user can also correct for a call that was blocked but shouldn’t have been.
There are some requirements for joining:
Must have a digital land line (e.g. Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Comcast Xfinity, …). Nomorobo does not support traditional analog land lines or wireless phones at this time, although they may add service to these types of phone lines in the future.
Process for joining (one time set-up process):
- You start by going to the Nomorobo website to specify the phone line type and carrier you have for the phone you want screened and you provide your e-mail address. The site will tell you if your phone line and carrier is eligible for the Nomorobo service.
- If your line/carrier is eligible, Nomorobo sends you an e-mail to confirm your address and directs you to a website where your enter your name and a password to set up your Nomorobo account.
- Nomorobo then provides you with instructions on how to complete the process. The final steps involve going to your carrier’s website and enabling Simultaneous Ring using your phone number and a phone number supplied by Nomorobo.
- This causes all calls made to your number to simultaneously ring at your phone and Nomorobo’s number. This feature allows Nomorobo to essentially screen all of your calls and pick up those that are on the blacklist.
- Finally you enable Nomorobo call screening for the number you specify. You can disable the feature at any time.
After Steve studied Nomorobo, he thought it sounded too good to be true, and heard Bart whispering in his ear, “Follow the money…” Since Nomorobo is free, what was Steve selling to them? He contacted Nomorobo and asked how they make their money. They told him:
Our business model is based on licensing our blacklist data to carriers. The incoming call data from Nomorobo users powers the detection algorithm. That being said, your personal data is never shared with anyone else. It’s only used to detect when one number is calling LOTS of consumers. Then Nomorobo knows to blacklist it.
While it’s not clear to us what the carriers do with these blacklists themselves, at least we know that Nomorobo is getting paid by someone else for this crowd sourced information and not making their money selling our data. I have to say, Steve and I LOVE Nomorobo. When the phone rings, we perk up like a cat smelling tunafish to see if it rings once or more. When it rings just that one time, you can hear “YES!” throughout the house from both of us. It’s soooo satisfying. I must say, when the American Red Cross name comes up and only rings once, it brings joy back into my heart. If you’re in the US, please join Nomorobo and come to our happy place with us.