On the one hand, you have the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. If you want to call a consumer, at the minimum you need to have a clear chain of permission.

On the other hand, you have these guys: NoMoRoBo. That’s the hip, fun way to say “No More RoboCalls” and it’s the latest consumer protection from allegedly unwanted calls.

Nomorobo is a cloud-based solution that uses the “simultaneous ring” service (provided by some phone carriers) that allows numerous phone lines with the same number to ring at the same time.

Sign up for the service and all of your calls also go to Nomorobo. If the call is tagged as a robocall, the computer hangs up on it before you get the second ring.

You do not need to have caller ID on your phone for this to work and the call information Nomorobo collects will be anonymous to protect clients’ privacy.

Sometimes things sound like a terrific idea. And if I never answered another call on my cell phone that opened with the sound of a cruise ship leaving the harbor (and also, just a general “no thanks!” to crusie ships — full stop), you’re right, that would be terrific.

Consumers thinking of using this as a way to avoid collection calls, though, aren’t considering all the facts.

For one thing, a call from a collection agency, even though it uses auto-dialing technology, isn’t considered a robo-call in the way, say, a marketing or political campaign might be. Also, avoiding calls from collection agencies doesn’t really solve the initial problem; it merely makes a consumer a more likely candidate for “further action” which can sometimes mean “legal action.”

There are also some clarity issues, mentioned by Brian Moore of Varolii Corporation, on his blog: “One feature described in the video is the ability of Nomoroboto intercept calls they suspect of possibly being an illegal robocall based on the frequency with which their originating CallerID is being used. Such suspected calls would be subjected to what the inventor calls an audio ‘Captcha’ -— a spoken challenge to the caller to enter a number announced by Nomorobo “to prove that you are a human.” Failure to correctly answer this prompt will result in the Caller ID being added to a robocall blacklist that will block any future calls from that number.”

This doesn’t necessarily effectively separate legitimate “robo” calls from the marketing calls NoMoRoBo thinks its protecting consumers from. It just lumps all of those calls, apparently, into robot calls and good luck getting off that black list.

Insulating consumers from their responsibilities will win you some fans, but at what cost to the consumer down the line?

Looking for some TCPA resources? Try these reports from insideARM.com’s bookstore:

To the Point: Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

To the Point: Voicemails and Foti

To the Point: Telephony and Voicemail Messages

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