Telemarketing to Go?
Date Added: Nov. 13, 2004
One thing most people really like about their cell phones is the sense of anonymity they provide because, unlike their corded brethren, cell phone numbers aren't published in a directory for all to see. So, it's not surprising that the specter of that advantage coming to an end has some very nervous. The chain letter below is based on fact, but is very misinformed.
Starting Jan 1, 2005, all cell phone numbers will be made public to telemarketing firms. So this means as of Jan 1, your cell phone may start ringing off the hook with telemarketers, but unlike your home phone, most of you pay for your incoming calls. These telemarketers will eat up your free minutes and end up costing you money in the long run.
According to the National Do Not Call List, you have until Dec. 15th 2004 to get on the national "Do not call list" for cell phones. They said that you need to call 1-888-382-1222 from the cell phone that you wish to have put on the "do not call list" to be put on the list. They also said you can do it online at www.donotcall.gov ..
Are they crazy, they sell our phone numbers, then charge us for the calls!!!!!!
Once a status symbol for the elite technophile, Cell phones are the norm today, with many people eschewing their traditional "land-line" phones for the convenience of their mobile brethren. Going wireless also proved to have an unexpected benefit: protection from annoying telemarketing calls.
By default, a "land-line" number is listed in a public directory and you have to pay a fee to have it "unlisted." Cell phones are the opposite: they aren't listed in a directory, but you can pay to have them listed in the regular phone book if you want. About five million cellular phone customers - mostly small businesses who rely on cell phones as their primary means of contact with customers, and individuals who have "cut the cord" and use cellular phones exclusively - have done just that.
The warning above began circulating in late 2004. What fueled it was news that five of the six major U.S. cell phone companies (at that time: Sprint, AT&T, Cingular, T-Mobile and Nextel) had banded together to create a cellular phone "411" service. Originally slated for spring 2005, Mobile 411 would work just like the existing 411 system, in which callers seeking a specific person's phone number would pay a fee (typically $1.00 per number requested) to find it.
The directory would not be available to the public in printed or online form. Furthermore, the list would be opt-in, meaning that your number cannot be added without your express consent, and it cannot be sold to a third party. While opt-in permission may have been part of your service contract, all participating carriers have agreed to ask subscribers to sign on before the service goes live.
Attempts by some cell phone carriers in nations such as India, Greece, Belgium and France to create a printed directory of cell phone numbers have met with great reluctance. Experts generally consider such an approach inpracticable, since the industry is still growing and consumers can change providers at any time.
Telemarketing calls on cellular phones would be more than annoying, they could be very costly. The American cell phone customer pays for all calls, incoming and outgoing, in the form of plan minutes, roaming charges and other service fees. As a result, most telemarketing calls to cellular telephones are prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission. From the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47, Chapter 1, Part 64, Subpart L, Section 64.1200(a)(1)(iii):
"No person or entity may initiate any telephone call... using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call."
Still, the prospect of a public cell phone directory is real enough that the U.S. government is already considering ways to regulate it. Legislation has already been proposed that would curb the directory, or at least limit its effectiveness. In its most extreme form, the "Wireless 411 Privacy Act" would prohibit 411 from giving the number out, requiring instead that the service connect the caller to the cell phone directly, without revealing the number. Some states have already passed similar laws. In addition, the largest U.S. cell phone service provider, Verizon, has refused to participate in Mobile 411, citing the privacy concerns of its subscribers.
As of this writing in October, 2007, the Mobile 411 directory is still being planned, but has not yet been launched.
It is true that the FTC has a Do Not Call registry that helps consumers reduce telemarketing calls. While it was not designed specifically for cellular phone customers, you can list your cell number in the registry. However, the federal Do Not Call registry is not directly related to Mobile 411 and will not prevent your number from being added to that service. In the fall of 2007, the FTC launched a major media campaign to drive these points home.
There is no deadline to register on the federal Do Not Call List, either. It is an open database that telemarketers are required to download and sync with their calling lists at least once every three months. Thus, you may begin to see a decrease in telemarketing calls within days or weeks of registering, and after 90 days the calls should have stopped entirely. The December 15 deadline given above seems to reference Pennsylvania's Do Not Call list, which does have quarterly deadlines, but is not directly tied to the national registry. As I suspected, after that deadline passed, well-meaning forwarders simply kept pushing the date back to keep the chain current. It is true that your registration on the Do Not Call list is good for five years.
If you are concerned about the mobile 411 directory, contact your Cellular phone provider to make sure your number is not included in the service. Break this chain.
References: WBAY-TV, Green Bay, WI, The Telegraph (Calcutta), TechNewsWorld.com, Library of Congress, Code of Federal Regulations, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Federal Trade Commission Notice - October 12, 2007