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Issue 112 - March 2011 - Page 22

Do Not Call - Mobile Phones Going Public Hoax

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Outline
Circulating email warns that mobile phone numbers in Australia are "going public" next month and claims that consumers will be charged for calls made to them by telemarketing companies.



Brief Analysis
False - Note however that while the claims in the email about the release of mobile phone numbers are untrue, the "Do Not Call" register itself is real and perfectly legitimate. Read the detailed analysis below for more information.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



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Last updated: 10th February 2011
First published: 20th March 2009
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Subject: RE: MOBILE PHONES - Do Not Call Register!

This is legit

YOUR CHOICE...........

This is for Australian phone numbers!

REMEMBER: Mobile Phone Numbers Go Public next month.

REMINDER all mobile phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls.

YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS

Below is a link where you can enter your phone numbers online to put an end to telemarketing calls

https://www.donotcall.gov.au/




Detailed Analysis
According to this widely circulated email warning, mobile phone numbers in Australia are about to be released to telemarketing companies. It claims that consumers will be charged for calls made to them by telemarketers.

However, these claims are untrue. According to a Do Not Call Register staff member that I contacted with regard to the email, the information does not originate with either the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) or the Do Not Call Register Operator. She notes that the The Do Not Call Register Operator has received a number of enquiries about the message and its origin is currently being investigated by the ACMA.

Moreover, the ACMA has now published the following consumer alert on its website warning people about the hoax:
Consumer Alert: Viral email with misinformation on release of mobile numbers to telemarketers &: associated mobile charges

The ACMA is aware of an email currently circulating providing misinformation about mobile numbers being made 'public' in the near future. It advises that as a consequence mobile users will be charged for calls made by telemarketing companies to their mobile service.

While the email refers to the Australian Do Not Call Register website, it appears to have originated in North America a number of years ago and has been intermittently circulating since that time. The reference to consumers being 'charged' arises from the different charging regime for mobile calls in the USA, where often charges are incurred by mobile phone users for calls they receive. This charging regime does not apply in Australia.

The Australian Do Not Call Register has strong mechanisms in place to protect the privacy of registrants. The numbers on the Do Not Call Register are never provided directly to telemarketers.

Consumers can list their Australian fixed line and mobile numbers on the Do Not Call Register, provided the numbers are used primarily for private or domestic purposes, on www.donotcall.gov.au. Consumers can also register by phoning 1300 792 958.

Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, telemarketers can check their calling lists against the Do Not Call Register. If a telemarketer calls a number on the Do Not Call Register, they may be in breach of the Act, and may face penalties.

The ACMA recommends recipients of the email delete it and not forward it on to other email users. A variation of this email was previously circulated during March/April 2009.
Like other warnings of this nature, the message contains no references to back up its claims. The lack of specific and verifiable details in the message is also a characteristic of such bogus warnings. For example, rather than include a specific date for the supposed changes, the message simply claims that they will take place "next month". If a concrete date was included, the message would obviously become outdated as soon as the date had passed. However, by vaguely referring to "next month", no deadline is specified and the message is therefore likely to continue circulating for months or even years to come.

In fact, as the following example illustrates, the email is simply a rehashed version of a long running email hoax that targets US cell phone users. Apparently, some prankster has simply altered the original American version of the hoax to fit Australian conditions.
Pass it along...

REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public next month.

REMINDER.... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls.

.... YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS

To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number
Variants of the US based hoax email have been circulating since 2004. In 2007, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US published information debunking the warnings as hoaxes.

While the claims about the imminent release of mobile phone numbers are untrue, Australian consumers can register their telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Register. Users can register both mobile and fixed phones. The Australian Do Not Call Register was launched in May, 2007 and is the responsibility of the ACMA. Information about the Register on the ACMA website notes:
The Do Not Call Register has opened and individuals can register their home phone and mobile numbers. Registration is free.

The register was established in response to community concern about the growth in unsolicited telemarketing calls. It enables Australians to list their fixed line and mobile telephone numbers, used primarily for private or domestic purposes to opt out of receiving certain telemarketing calls.
For information about registering phone numbers in Australia, refer to the Do Not Call Register website. Australian consumers who are bothered by telemarketing calls certainly should consider registering their numbers on the Do Not Call Register. However, sending on the misinformation contained in this email forward will serve no good purpose.

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References
Consumer Alert: Viral email with misinformation on release of mobile numbers to telemarketers &: associated mobile charges
Australia Communications and Media Authority
Email: Add Cell Phones to Do Not Call List
The Truth about Cell Phones and the Do Not Call Registry
Do Not Call Register





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Issue 112 Start Menu

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  22. Do Not Call - Mobile Phones Going Public Hoax
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