Hoax - Cell Phone Numbers Go Public This Month
OutlineMessage warns recipients that cell phone numbers are set to be released to telemarketing companies this month and that consumers will be charged for incoming calls from these companies. The message urges people to register on the Do Not Call list to have their cell phone numbers blocked from such calls.
© Depositphotos.com/ Ashok Tholpady
Brief AnalysisThe claim that cell phone numbers are about to be released to the public is a long running hoax with no factual basis whatsoever. And the claim that consumers will be charged for sales calls made by telemarketing companies is also nonsense. Resending this false information will help no one. However, it should be noted that the National Do Not Call Registry itself is a real US Government entity and US consumers can indeed register their cell phone numbers if they wish.
Scroll down to read a detailed analysis with references.
Versions of this "warning" message have circulated continually since 2004, first via email and more lately via social media websites. According to the message, cell phone numbers are set to go public "this month". The message claims that, not only will cell phone numbers be released to telemarketing companies "this month" but that consumers will actually be charged for sales calls made by these companies. The message suggests that, to prevent these unwanted sales calls, consumers should register their cell phone numbers on the National Do Not Call list. It urges recipients to pass on the information to help others avoid these costly telemarketing calls as well.
The information in the message about the National Do Not Call Registry is factual. Consumers can add their cell phone numbers to the registry if they wish to do so. However, the claim that cell phone numbers are due to be released to telemarketing companies is untrue. And the claim that consumers will be charged for sales calls made by these telemarketing companies is simply absurd. These claims are part of a long running hoax that has circulated in the United States, Australia and Canada for several years. In fact, the supposed number release has been set to occur "this month" ever since September 2004.
Despite thorough debunking of the hoax by various media and government agencies, the hoax message continues to circulate. In January 2006, the US Federal Trade Commission released a statement denying the claims in the message, which notes in part:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today reiterated that despite the claims made in e-mails circulating on the Internet, consumers should not be concerned that their cell phone numbers will be released to telemarketers in the near future, and that it is not necessary to register cell phone numbers on the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry to be protected from most telemarketing calls to cell phones.Then in September 2009, the FTC released the following statement again denying the claims in the hoax message:
NO TRUTH TO RUMOR THAT CELL PHONE NUMBERS WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO TELEMARKETERSThus, the claims in this old hoax message are nonsense and forwarding or reposting it will help nobody. However, as noted above, US consumers can add the cellphone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry if they wish either via the Registry's website or by calling 888-382-1222 from the phone they wish to register. The claim in the message that numbers added to the Registry will expire in five years is incorrect. Registered numbers do not expire and will only be removed when they are disconnected and reassigned, or when the consumer chooses to remove a number from the registry.
Washington, DC -- For several years there has been a rumor circulating, mostly by e-mail, that a nationwide directory of cell phone numbers will be made available to telemarketers, and that consumers will start receiving telemarketing calls on their cell phones.
There is no truth to this rumor. Cell phone numbers are not being released to telemarketers, and you will not soon be getting telemarketing calls on your cell phone. FCC rules prohibit the use of autodialers and prerecorded messages to call cell phones without the consumer’s consent. Thus, most telemarketers are barred from contacting consumers on their cell phones.
The e-mail spreading the rumor often suggests that consumers put their cell phone numbers on the National Do-Not-Call Registry by going on-line at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1- 888-382-1222. This is the correct contact information for the National Do-Not-Call Registry. Consumers may register their cell phone numbers as an extra protection against unwanted telemarketing calls, although most telemarketing calls to cell phones would be illegal regardless of whether the number is listed on the Do-Not-Call Registry.
For more information on the government’s Do-Not-Call Registry, go to www.donotcall.gov.
To learn more about the e-mail rumor, go to
© Depositphotos.com/ minervastock
Last updated: October 18, 2013
First published: December 2, 2011
By Brett M. Christensen
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