Last week at dinner with friends, we got on the subject of those pesky robocalls, which we seniors have been bombarded with and have complained so much about. Remember, I wrote about the subject in Senior Circles ("Telephone scams target senior citizens in Howard County and beyond," Sept. 12, 2013). There may be a solution to rid us of these annoying calls. Halleluiah!
One of our dinner companions told us that she had heard about a robocall solution on TV, which worked for her. It is called Nomorobo (No More Robocalls) and promises to "block annoying robocallers and telemarketers from reaching your phone." Just go to nomorobo.com and complete a simple, one-time setup on your phone line to activate Nomorobo. It hangs up on robocallers for you. You do not need to pick up the phone.
Aaron Foss, a software programmer from Long Island, N.Y., took the Federal Trade Commission's Robocall Challenge, developed the Nomorobo software solution and tied for first place, winning $25,000. His use of technology helps consumers block unwanted, illegal robocalls, using the "simultaneous ring" service, provided by some phone carriers, which allows numerous phone lines with the same number to ring at the same time.
When someone calls your phone, Nomorobo instantly screens the call and if it is a robocaller, Nomorobo answers and immediately hangs up. You will only hear a single ring on your phone. Nomorobo allows you to use your phone as normal. The only thing that you need to do is to wait for the second ring to answer the phone. If you only hear one ring, you know that a robocaller was blocked. Answer your phone if it continues to ring.
Scammers do change their tactics from time to time, so if a robocall does get through, report the new number/robocaller at us.mg205.mail.yahoo.com/report/create. Nomorobo can be adapted to new robocallers. Legal robocalls from your pharmacy, doctor's office, political groups, charities and other sources are not blocked.
Only customers who have VoIP service with AT&T, U-verse, Cablevision Optimum, SureWest, Verizon FiOS and Vonage can currently use Nomorobo. I was successful in setting up Nomorobo on our home phone. Now we will see how it works.
See if Nomorobo will work for you. It only takes a few minutes to set up from your computer. Let me know if it works and if you are happy with this robocaller solution. If your phone service provider doesn't support Nomorobo, the software prompts you to call your phone provider to get them to provide the simultaneous ringing service to their customers.
One comment I have is that people may not like the fact that Nomorobo screens all your calls in order to select out the robocalls. However, Nomorobo's developer assures that clients' privacy will be protected and that the call information Nomorobo collects will be anonymous.
If you haven't been to Howard County's 50+ Expo, here is your chance. This annual event on Oct. 18 is full of information and entertainment thanks to the Department of Citizen Services' Office on Aging. The Expo takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, in Columbia. There is limited handicapped parking at the school, but your best bet is to take the free shuttle from the Sears lower parking lot at the Mall in Columbia.
If you get to the Expo early, make sure you get your ticket for the Capitol Steps, with performances at noon and 2 p.m. The group's musical, political satire will surely keep you laughing.
The keynote speaker is Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer and Principal of the new NeurExpand Brain Center in Columbia. His talk on "Boost Your Brain: How to Protect Your Memory for Life," is at 10 a.m. in the Rouse Theatre. He is one of the world's foremost authorities on memory, cognitive performance and aging. There will also be a number of healthy aging workshops led by wellness experts. Other seminar topics include "Identity Theft" and "Protecting Yourself on the Internet."
Café 50+ will have musical and dance entertainment all day as well as a full lunch menu and refreshments for purchase.
If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, they are being offered free at the Expo for adults aged 50 and older and adults under age 50 with underlying chronic medical conditions.
I recommend checking the 50+ Expo's complete schedule. Make a plan before you go, so you get to see and do what is most important and interesting to you. Go to howardcountyaging.org/50plusexpo.