TARGET 8: "Answer Bots" wasting spammers' time through innovative app

1 year 7 months 4 days ago Monday, February 12 2018 Feb 12, 2018 Monday, February 12, 2018 1:44:00 PM CST February 12, 2018 in News
By: Stephanie Sandoval, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - Telemarketers and spammers are targeting people nationwide, especially during tax season, but there are some innovative apps fighting back against the scammers.

RoboKiller, an iPhone app created and developed by TelTech, automatically blocks robocalls and telemarketers, even if the callers spoof a local number that’s not theirs to begin with. 

The vice president of Product for TelTech Systems, Ethan Garr, contacted KOMU 8 News after our Target 8 team ran a story on spoofing

Garr said the app wasted an estimated over 15,000 hours of spammers' time in January compared to December, which wasted around 12,000 hours. 

“Our attitude is 'time is money for these people' and the calls are very cheap to make and that’s why this whole industry exists, so if we could figure out a way to steal time from them, we steal money from them and we essentially put them out of business and that’s our goal,” Garr said.

The app uses audio fingerprinting and a machine-learning algorithm. The app also fights back by answering spammers with RoboKiller “Answer Bots” that talk back to the spammer to waste their time.

“They’re really funny and they’re hilarious and they drive the spammers crazy because they think they’re talking to a real human,” Garr said. 

According to data collected by the RoboKiller Task Force, there are 2,726 spam and robocalls made every second in the United States. 

TelTech is also the maker of SpoofCard, an app that can easily disguise your caller ID and make it so you’re calling from a different number. Garr said SpoofCard “was never intend for a nefarious reason.” He said many professionals use SpoofCard as a way to keep their personal phone numbers private from clients, customers or patients. 

“We’re always trying to solve problems for people on their mobile phones and while spoof card gets a bad rap, the vast majority are using it for very legitimate purposes,” Garr said. “If you’re a doctor, and you need to call a patient from home at night, being able to protect your mobile phone number so you don’t get calls every night from a patient is a very common use.” 

There are many other apps similar to RoboKiller, too, such as Nomorobo, TrapCall  and Avast Call Blocker

Each app claims to stop robocalls, though each app is unique.

According to Nomorobo’s website, it has services for bot cellular and landline phones. As stated on its website, Nomorobo for landlines uses a feature known as "Simultaneous Ring.” If the call is an illegal robocaller, the app intercepts the call and hangs up. 

Another landline option is a call-blocking box, which costs anywhere from $20-$150.

TrapCall claims it puts names and faces to callers with Live Caller ID and unmasks unknown callers. According to its website, it will show you “who they are, where they live and how they look even before you answer the call.” It also records incoming calls. 

Avast Call Blocker claims it won’t access your contacts list in your phone for those who have privacy concerns. The app also claims it allows people to block any number they want — not just spammers. 

Melinda Kidder, private investigator and owner of Columbia Investigations, said apps like these are excellent, but are not 100 percent effective.  

“If you’re only having one or two calls here or there every now and then, and it’s only mildly annoying then I wouldn’t recommend it,” Kidder said. “But if it’s something that is someone is obsessively calling you or you're excessively experiencing robo dial calls then I absolutely recommend that kind of service.”

Kidder said to always check into a company because “different models may have different issues.” She recommends reading the reviews, checking prices and privacy policy before deciding on which app to use. 

“If someone has the same type of phone, same type of phone service provider that you use, same type of voicemail that you use and if they use another call forwarding service that you use,” Kidder said, “then I would check into any issues that they may have had with the service prior to using that app.” 

However, she said apps like this may not be the right app for people who live rurally and utilize call forwarding. Kidder lives in a rural area and uses Google Voice, which allows a call to be forwarded to another phone, so if a call drops she can pick up the other phone. 

“But if I were to engage in a service like RoboKiller or Truecaller or Avast Call Blocker, then that would interrupt the call forwarding,” she said. 

Another concern is privacy. Most of the apps available blocking robocalls save calls or recordings on its servers instead of saving it on the person’s phone. Kidder said technically developers could go in and look through voicemails. 

“Chances of them going in and doing that are slim,” Kidder said. “But let’s say you’re a doctor or a psychotherapist or something and you receive confidential calls. That may not be a service for you.” 

Garr said an Android app version of RoboKiller is in underway. He expects the app to launch in early March. 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Teachers, students and parents at Blue Ridge Elementary School are getting used to new security measures. Over... More >>
6 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 6:04:00 PM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Multiple people were trapped in elevators across MU's campus as a result of a widespread power outage Tuesday... More >>
6 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 5:26:00 PM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
CAMDENTON - Police are investigating after a Walmart employee found a man dead in a car in the parking lot... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 4:08:00 PM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Residents are asking for road improvements after a driver hit and killed a 17-year-old girl on Clark Lane... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 3:46:00 PM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The amount of water flowing down the lower Missouri River this year is approaching the... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 3:39:47 PM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA -MU's football attendance is showing signs of revival, following years of steady decline. The Tigers' average home attendance... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 2:36:00 PM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Parents of Columbia Public School students are demanding a change to the way they treat students with special... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 2:29:00 PM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
(CNN) -- Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts, winner of three Emmys and a legend and trailblazer in broadcasting, has died at... More >>
14 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 10:06:00 AM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol is helping two county agencies with a death investigation Tuesday. Troop F,... More >>
15 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 8:28:00 AM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - School Resource Officers (SROs) will be staying in Columbia Public Schools for at least another month. The Columbia... More >>
22 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 1:22:00 AM CDT September 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A seventeen-year-old is dead after being hit by a car while walking on Clark Lane late Monday night.... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 16 2019 Sep 16, 2019 Monday, September 16, 2019 11:20:00 PM CDT September 16, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A woman face charges of domestic assault, property damage and driving while intoxicated after investigators said she... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 16 2019 Sep 16, 2019 Monday, September 16, 2019 10:11:00 PM CDT September 16, 2019 in News
BELLEFONTAINE NEIGHBORS, Mo. — A head-on crash in Cole County over the weekend killed a St. Louis County couple travelling... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 16 2019 Sep 16, 2019 Monday, September 16, 2019 9:45:00 PM CDT September 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Hickman High School got its first eSports club five years ago, but this year, it's finally getting its... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 16 2019 Sep 16, 2019 Monday, September 16, 2019 3:00:00 PM CDT September 16, 2019 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A suburban St. Louis-based company is offering free test-preparation classes for high school students in... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 16 2019 Sep 16, 2019 Monday, September 16, 2019 2:25:00 PM CDT September 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The city did not collect curbside recycling on Monday due to what they are calling "severe collection staff... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 16 2019 Sep 16, 2019 Monday, September 16, 2019 1:28:00 PM CDT September 16, 2019 in News
MILLER COUNTY - A man pleaded guilty Monday to child molestation, prosecutors said. Dillon J. Robertson pleaded guilty to... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 16 2019 Sep 16, 2019 Monday, September 16, 2019 1:12:00 PM CDT September 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Interim Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones will officially remove the interim label from his job title at Monday... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 16 2019 Sep 16, 2019 Monday, September 16, 2019 12:47:00 PM CDT September 16, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 77°
1am 76°
2am 75°
3am 73°
4am 72°