Cell phone numbers going public?

I received an email this morning that sounds dire and scary, and is actually incorrect according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Some forwarded email chains are total scams, this one is just incorrect, basically. Nobody is really trying to scam money out of another person.

The email states, in typical email scam dramatic fashion, that cell phone numbers will go public in 30 days, bringing on swarms of eager telemarketers who will bombard your cell phone with calls and suck up your minutes like a thirsty kid drinking chocolate milk through a straw.


Really, it is in all caps. The equivalent of yelling. Yikes.

Cell phone users are then urged to call 888-382-1222 to place their cell phone number on the national DO NOT CALL list.

This same email has been going around since at least 2004, but the FTC has stated several times there is no truth to the rumor.

From a news release from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dated Sept. 17, 2009:

“There is no truth to this rumor. Cell phone numbers are not being released to telemarketers, and you will not soon be getting tele-marketing 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 online 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.”

Just to be sure the phone number was safe, I double-checked it on the FCC Web site, then called. It does register your phone on the list, and states that in 31 days, all telemarketers will be required to stop calling whichever number you enter. You need to call from the phone number you are registering, and it takes less than a minute to do.

But if you choose not to register your cell phone, your number isn’t going to be handed off to the telemarketers of the world. If you, however, give your cell number to a company for business-related reasons, they can certainly use it to call you.

So there…another silly forwarded email urban legend put to rest.