Cell Phones Are Safe From Telemarketers

For Now At Least ...

Gwyneth Doland
2 min read
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We get those e-mails too. “This morning on NPR, Nina Totenberg said blah blah blah,” and “Stop Dr. David Hager's appointment to the FDA yadda yadda.” Both of those e-mails were once accurate, but are so far out of date that they now qualify as spam.

We got a new one today, about the national do-not-call list, which allows people with home phones to prevent most unwanted calls. The e-mail warns that staring in 2005, telemarketers will be able to call cell phones—unless you register your number with the do-not-call list (www.donotcall.gov). The e-mail is total crap.

According to the Netlore archive on www.about.com:

While it’s true that the major wireless phone providers (with the exception of Verizon) have announced their intention to establish a 411 directory of customers’ cell phone numbers beginning in late 2005, it is not true that they plan to “publish” said directory for any and all to read. Participating companies say the numbers will be made available only with customer consent and only via telephone to users who dial directory assistance and pay a fee.

The companies swear the numbers will never be available to telemarketers.

Not everyone believes that, however, as evidenced by a privacy protection bill already introduced in Congress which would modify the plan to allow 411 callers to be directly connected to requested parties without the latter’s phone numbers being given out.

Per FCC regulations, telemarketers are already prohibited from calling cell phone numbers using automated dialers, which are standard in the industry.

In any case, the Federal Trade Commission does allow cell phone users to add their numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry — the same one already in force for landlines — either on the Web or by calling (888) 382-1222.

Contrary to what some variants of the email rumor claim, there is no December 15, 2004 deadline for adding cell phone numbers to the list — indeed, there is no deadline whatsoever.

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