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Mitch Lipka | Consumer alert

Free service helps block out hated robocalls

A few weeks ago, a reader wrote in about all sorts of annoying scam calls and wondered why being on the national Do Not Call registry didn’t take care of the problem. The registry has mostly worked to ensure legitimate businesses play by the rules, but crooks, being crooks, have been largely undeterred.

But my suggestion to just ignore unrecognized calls rang hollow with many readers, who said their lives have been made a bit less annoying by a free service that helps limit robocalls. The service, which won a Federal Trade Commission technology competition, is called Nomorobo, and you can sign up at Nomorobo.com.

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Essentially, the service remembers phone numbers known to be used by robocallers and blocks those calls before your phone can ring. It also can detect other incoming robocalls and after a single ring will deflect them so that you don’t have to hear Rachel from Cardholder Services offering to lower your credit card interest rates, pitches for free vacations, or any other robocall scams.

There is no question that Nomorobo offers some hope in what otherwise has been a rather depressing battle to stop scam robocalls.

But it’s not for everyone.

Nomorobo works for those who have Voice Over Internet Protocol phone service. That’s an awful lot of people, including many who might not realize it. If you use Comcast’s Xfinity or Verizon’s FiOS, both of which are VoIP services, you can try Nomorobo. It takes one click to cancel if you don’t like it.

But for those using Charter’s phone service, no dice, although that might change after Comcast takes over Charter’s Massachusetts accounts as is planned as part of a swap of customers the companies say makes sense for both of them geographically. Until then, Charter does not allow subscribers to use Nomorobo.

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So, give Nomorobo a try, if you can. If not, report the calls you get to the Federal Trade Commission through the website DoNotCall.gov, and stay tuned to see whether you will get to use Nomorobo or some other innovation to help fend off your share of the millions of scam robocalls made to consumers every day.


Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and can be reached at consumernews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.