Nomorobo: The App That Fries Spam Calls

Unknown number calling in the middle of the night. Phone call from stranger. Person holding mobile and smartphone in bedroom bed home late.
Unknown number calling in the middle of the night.

Like the majority of the telephone-using public, Aaron Foss of Port Jefferson has long been beyond fed up with the nonstop robocalls that bombard Americans’ phones daily — but he’s fighting back.

The software developer beat nearly 800 competitors in 2013 to win a $25,000 grant from the Federal Trade Commission that funded the launch of Nomorobo, an app he created that intercepts and filters out illegal prerecorded calls using technology to “blacklist” robocaller phone numbers and “whitelist” acceptable numbers.

“Our privacy is more at risk than ever before,” says Foss, the CEO of Telephone Science Corporation who is also a professor at Molloy College. “Our goal is to protect our users from all types of scams and invasions of privacy.”

The cloud-based solution uses “simultaneous ringing,” which allows incoming calls to be routed to a second telephone line that identifies and hangs up on illegal robocalls before they have a chance to harass the callee. Nomorobo determines which numbers are legit by comparing incoming calls to its ever-growing list of blacklisted callers.

The company was closing in on nixing a billion robocalls as of December, about two years after the tool made the leap from landlines to mobile devices. Nomorobo touts more than a million fried spam calls per day.

It reportedly has a 97 percent accuracy rate, with just three percent of spam calls getting through and a fraction of a percent of legit calls getting hung up on.

After a quick download and signing up for a fee of $1.99 per month, it also terminates spam texts. But hold the phone. Most recently, nomorobo also began offering web protections in direct response to Cambridge Analytica, a now-defunct political consulting firm, which exploited Facebook user data to manipulate voters in the 2016 elections.

That pits Foss against another Long Islander: Robert Mercer, the infamously reclusive billionaire and former part-owner of Cambridge Analytica who’s credited with helping Donald Trump get elected president.

And with privacy more and more at risk as robocallers and internet hucksters increasingly get craftier by the day, it’s good to have Foss and Nomorobo standing guard.