SALT LAKE CITY — A man who won $25,000 from federal regulators for finding a way to block automated "robocalls" for some phone customers had his creation go live this week.
Many people regard those pre-recorded calls among the most annoying calls they receive. That's why software programmer Aaron Foss came up with Nomorobo.
His software analyzes and filters out automated calls while allowing other calls, such as those from relatives, to go through.
"When one phone number calls thousands of numbers at the same time, that's something your mother just isn't going to be doing," Foss explained. "That's one of the pieces of the algorithm that it picks up on."
Data from Federal Trade Commission complaints and state databases helps Nomorobo detect robocalls. And it actually uses old technology called simultaneous ringing to route an incoming call to both your home and to the Nomorobo number at the same time.
One problem: It seems to be available only for people who have voice over IP phone service. If your company doesn't support Nomorobo, the website gives your company's customer service number and tells you to call them and request they add "simultaneous ringing" to their service.
Foss said that will help him expand his service to traditional landlines and cellphones.
"If it's a robocall, Nomorobo answers the phone and hangs it up for you, basically stopping that call from ringing in your house," Foss said.
Nomorobo is free with no ads, so spam, just blocked phone calls. Foss said corporate and government agencies keep it going.
"Large call centers, every single time a representative picks up a phone, that costs them real cash," Foss said.
Nomorobo will not block the automated calls you may want, like school closings, Amber Alerts and weather advisories. And, it is only available for some phone customers.