How to turn the tables on scam, spam callers

Robokiller is an app that intercepts scam and spam calls and uses "bots" to waste the time of the callers. It won a competition by the Federal Trade Commission.

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Monroe County's 585 area code is among the most targeted in the country by scam and spam callers. More than 15,500,000 of these calls were placed in September 2018 alone, adding up to 32 calls a month per person.

The U.S. average is 20.

A 13WHAM investigation found reasons why 'Do Not Call' registries are not effective - in part, because many of these organizations operate illegally and don't care about the rules legitimate telemarketers must follow.

But what if you could get rid of the calls? Better yet, what if you could turn the tables and annoy the scammers for a change?

Small business owner Bryan Maslin estimates he receives between four and eight of these calls every day.

"While I was doing this interview with you, I got another call," Maslin said, holding up his cell phone.

Scammers trick people into turning over money or credit cards and rake in a whopping $9.5 billion in revenue every year. They often operate overseas and frequently change numbers to avoid detection.

"These guys aren't trying to follow the law or honor a list the government put out there," said Ethan Garr, VP of products for Robokiller. "There's no single solution from the government or regulator or carrier."

Robokiller is an app. It identifies and blocks more than a million numbers known to be used to make these annoying calls. It also identifies scammers through voice recognition technology and can block calls when the caller IDs are spoofed.

Here's the best part: When callers interrupt your day, Robokiller interrupts theirs.

"Our robots talk back to scammers and waste their time," said Garr. You can choose from more than a dozen "bots" - including one with a Russian accent or even one that imitates President Trump.

"We don't just want to block their calls, we want to disrupt their whole business," said Garr. "That's time they can't use to call someone else or scam someone's elderly mother."

Robokiller won a competition by the Federal Trade Commission. For $24.99 a year, it promises to reduce spam and scam calls by up to 90 percent and does so within three months.

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