Your Cell Number is not Going Public

7/22/2010

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Have you gotten an email forwarded to you by one of your friends lately saying that one day very soon the list of all cell phone numbers is going to go public and you will be spammed by unwanted sales calls?  Actually, it’s not going to happen.

There are some rumors that just will not die, and this is one of them.  Since at least 2004 there’s been an email making the rounds that says that all cell phone numbers are about to go public and be released to telemarketers.  According to the email, you will be spammed by sales calls (and they will go on your cell phone bill) unless you call a special number at the national Do Not Call (DNC) Registry to get your cell phone number blocked for the next 5 years.

So, what’s the real deal?  Well, there is a national DNC Registry, and there’s no harm in registering your cell phone number on it, but there is NO national release of cell phone numbers scheduled or planned.  According to the Web site snopes.com, this rumor started several years ago when some of the major wireless companies planned to create a 411 national directory.  In the end, the directory never happened – but the rumor that it’s out there and telemarketers will soon have access to it just won’t go away.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a special Web page http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/02/dnccellphones.shtm about this story-that-will-not-die.  On it they say that:

  • Cell phone numbers are NOT being released to telemarketers, and you will NOT soon be getting telemarketing calls on your cell phone.
  • There is NO deadline to register your cell phone number with the DNC Registry.
  • Telemarketers are not allowed to use automated dialers to call cell phone numbers. Since that’s what most of them use, they wouldn’t be calling your cell phone number even if they had it.
  • There is only one DNC Registry. There is no separate one for cell phones.  The DNC Registry registers both cell phones and land lines. You must call from the phone number that you want to register. If you register online, you must respond to a confirmation e-mail.
  • And, by the way, in 2007 the FTC got rid of the 5-year expiration date on DNC registries.  So once your number’s registered, you won’t have to renew it.

To put your phone number in the DNC Registry, go to www.donotcall.gov or call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222.  But there’s no need to panic if you don’t get around to it today.  

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