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Cellphone Numbers Go Public, Fact or Fiction?

Cellphone numbers going public?
Spencer Platt/Getty Images News

Have you received emails from friends lately saying that cell phone numbers are going public soon and that you’ll be spammed by unwanted sales calls?  Actually, Snopes says this is NOT true. 

According to the Better Business Bureau, There are some rumors that just will not die, and this is one of them.  Since at least 2004 there’s been an email making the rounds that says that all cell phone numbers are about to go public and be released to telemarketers.  According to the email, you will be spammed by sales calls (and they will go on your cell phone bill) unless you call a special number at the national Do Not Call (DNC) Registry to get your cell phone number blocked for the next 5 years.

So, what’s the real deal?  Well, there is a national DNC Registry, and there’s no harm in registering your cell phone number on it, but there is NO national release of cell phone numbers scheduled or planned.  According to the Web site snopes.com, this rumor started several years ago when some of the major wireless companies planned to create a 411 national directory.  In the end, the directory never happened – but the rumor that it’s out there and telemarketers will soon have access to it just won’t go away.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a special web page about this story that-will-not-die.  http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/02/dnccellphones.shtm On it they say that:

  • 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 to register your cell phone number with the DNC Registry.
  • Telemarketers are not allowed to use automated dialers to call cell phone numbers. Since that’s what most of them use, they wouldn’t be calling your cell phone number even if they had it.
  • There is only one DNC Registry. There is no separate one for cell phones.  The DNC Registry registers 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.
  • And, by the way, in 2007 the FTC got rid of the 5-year expiration date on DNC registries.  So once your number’s registered, you won’t have to renew it.

To put your phone number in the DNC Registry, go to www.donotcall.gov or call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222. Remember there’s no sense of urgency if you don’t get around to it today.

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