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Consumer organizations say cell numbers not going public

December 7, 2011

Photo by Colin Deppen - Consumer advocate organizations including the Federal Communications Commission and Better Business Bureau have declared emails warning recipients that cellphone numbers will be released to telemarketing companies to be nothing more than a hoax.

An email warning readers that their cellphone numbers are set to be released to telemarketing companies this month has been declared a hoax.
The email instructs readers to register with the National Do Not Call (DNC) List in order to prevent themselves from receiving the imminent torrent of sales calls. The email says that registering with the DNC list "will only take a minute of your time, and blocks your number for five years."
Both the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have addressed the claim, stating definitively that cellphone numbers will not be released to telemarketers.
The email is said to have begun circulating in 2004, and according to the FCC and BBB, is likely to have started making the rounds as a result of cellphone companies discussing the creation of a national directory at that time. While the national directory never came to be, the emails continue to inundate inboxes nationwide.
In addition, the FCC website states that the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008, eliminated the 5-year expiration on DNC registration and that once registered, there is no need to renew. The FCC adds that telemarketers are not allowed to use automated dialers to call cellphone numbers and their website states, "Since that’s what most of them use, they wouldn’t be calling your cellphone number even if they had it."
While this is true, a bill has been recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives aiming to amend pre-existing communications laws to allow for the use of "auto-dialers" in making "informational calls" to mobile phone numbers. The Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, or H.R. 3035, sponsored by Representative Lee Terry from Nebraska, aims to update communications laws like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which made it illegal for companies to use automatic dialing systems in calling cellphones. The law would also rescind a state's right to regulate the matter. Calls traditionally exempt from the TCPA stipulations include those from non-profit organizations, those not made for commercial purposes and not including advertisements, those from companies with which the customer has a prior business relationship, and those made on behalf of political groups and/or candidates.

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