How do robo-callers and telemarketers have my cell number anyway?

  
     
Telemarketing, scam and robo-calls used to be mostly limited to home phone (landline) numbers, but that is quickly changing. It is becoming easier and easier for marketing organizations to obtain mobile phone numbers, especially with landline usage dropping by over 10 percent per year.
April 06, 2017

Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana reminds consumers to be careful where they share cell numbers, as the numbers often end up on unwanted marketing or even scammer lists.

The most common way for telemarketers to get your data is to simply purchase it from a third party data provider. 

There are hundreds of data providers that have a wide array of data on individuals. They accumulate your data through sources like warranty cards, online purchases, even searching for number online to build a more lucrative file to sell. Other cell phone sources include email signatures, business cards, pizza orders and other places where contact information is required.

BBB and firstorion.com offer several of the most common ways cell phone numbers end up on telemarketing and even scammer lists:

  • 800, 888 and 900 numbers are a major way for telemarketers to obtain your phone number. When you call these numbers, your phone number may be captured with a system called “Automatic Number Identification” or ANI. ANI uses equipment that automatically identifies and stores the number from which you are dialing. By matching your phone number with other computerized lists and street address directories, your name and address can often be discovered and added to marketers’ databases then possibly to other marketers.
  • Whenever you apply for credit, even for something as small as household appliances, you give out personal information. They lure people in with 0% financing, immediate spending power, even discounts – just to get their hands on your personal info. They can then sell and resell your name, address, phone number and spending history to others.
  • If you contribute to charitable organizations, obtaining your name and cell number can far outweigh your donation in value. Many times, charities hire third-party telemarketing companies to collect funds on their behalf. The telemarketers keep a percentage of whatever they collect, turning over the rest of your donation to the charity. However, the telemarketers also keep your personal information, from which they can profit by selling the information to other telemarketing companies.
  • If you sign up for a contest or drawing, a phone number is usually requested. Such give-away promotions may have less to do with gifts than they do with obtaining your number for sales pitches. If you have your phone number printed on your checks, your name, address and phone number can easily be copied and entered into computerized mailing/phone lists.
  • Automatic dialing devices (Robo callers) are able to determine all possible phone number combinations, even unlisted numbers, in any area code and dial them much more rapidly than any person can.
  • When you call, email or otherwise ask for more information on a product or service, you’ve opened the door for them to call you to sell you something.

BBB recommends consumers take advantage of services to report unwanted calls and texts, such as reporting them to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.

To avoid unwanted calls to your mobile, remember to limit where you provide your cell phone number and always read the fine print on disclosures so you know where your personal information is going.

“Look for the Seal” and Start with Trust®. BBB Serving Acadiana is a private non-profit organization that strives for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

Please contact Better Business Bureau at (337) 981-3497 24 or bbb.org 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America. Consumers can also sign up for our free BBB “Scoop” eNewsletter by visiting bbb.org and clicking on the “Programs & Services” tab.

BBB Serving Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.