Thursday, March 31, 2011

Information about cell phones and telemarketers

Earlier today the Oshkosh Police Department sent out an email to people on its mail lists warning them that cell phone numbers were going to be made public to telemarketers this month and that, not only would people start receiving sales calls on their cell phones, but recipients of such telemarketing calls would also be charged for those calls. This story has been floating around on the Internet for years and, according to some very reliable sources, including the Federal Trade Commission, is just that – a hoax or rumor. I immediately sent an email to the sender, Joe Nichols at OPD, telling him this might well be a hoax and providing him with three links which discussed the rumor in depth. He may have gotten emails from others as well as he sent quickly sent out another email to the mail list people stating that the phone number on the original email was indeed the number for the National Do Not Call Registry, that everything on Snopes isn’t always accurate and that we shouldn’t always believe what we read.

OPD provides a wonderful service and is a great resource for many things. I think that, in this case, anyone who may have sent him an email, including me, was only trying to help OPD not spread inaccurate information. Judging by Officer Nichols’ response, it didn’t seem to be taken that way, nor did it seem to be appreciated by him.

For the record, based on everything on the Internet about this, and given the fact that this rumor has been going around for several years and, apparently, has never come to fruition, I think we can feel pretty confident that this is just that – a rumor. I also contacted my own cell provider and was told they have no intention of releasing any numbers to telemarketers.

People can certainly research and then judge for themselves if this is a rumor or not. Here are some links where you might want to start.

But perhaps the most compelling piece of information is from the Federal Trade Commission itself about this rumor. Here is the text of their press release dated January 19, 2006. Here is also the link to that direct press release.

For Release: January 19, 2006

The Truth about Cell Phones and the Do Not Call Registry

The Federal Trade Commission 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.

The truth about cell phones and the DNC Registry is:

• Contrary to the e-mail, 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 by which you must register your cell phone number on the Registry.
• Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers. Automated dialers are standard in the industry, so most telemarketers are barred from calling consumers on their cell phones without their consent.
• The national associations representing telemarketers have stated that their clients do not intend to start calling consumers’ cell phones.
• There is only ONE DNC Registry. There is no separate registry for cell phones.
• The DNC Registry accepts registrations from 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.
• While the telecommunications industry has been discussing the possibility of creating a wireless 411 directory, according to the FCC, even if a wireless 411 directory is established, most telemarketing calls to cell phones would still be illegal, regardless of whether the number is listed on the federal government’s National Do Not Call Registry.

In addition, according to the industry:

• Your number would not be included in a wireless 411 directory unless you wanted it to be (i.e., you will have to “opt-in”); and
• The wireless 411 directory would not be available in a printed, electronic, or Internet list for telemarketers. In other words, a list of numbers on the wireless 411 directory would not be made available to telemarketers.

For More Information

To learn more about the National DNC Registry and the rules that enforce it, visit the FTC at or the FCC at For more information about a planned “wireless 411” directory, visit

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Media Contact:
Mitchell J. Katz,
Office of Public Affairs

Staff Contact:
David Robbins,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
- end press release -

Of course, at the end of the day, as I mentioned to Officer Nichols in my original email, it certainly can’t hurt to put your cell number on a Do Not Call List. But if you’re going to do that you might also want to put it on the Wisconsin Do Not Call list. They are separate registries and give protection where the other one might not. or call them at 1-888-382-1222 or call them at 1-866-9NO-CALL (1-866-966-2255) toll-free in Wisconsin

Please note that if you choose to register at either of these places by phone, you must call the number from the phone whose number you wish to register.


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