Celling Your Soul
Claim: A directory of cell phone numbers will soon be published.
* A consortium of wireless providers is planning to create a 411 (directory assistance) service for cell phone numbers: True.
* You must register your cell phone with the national "Do Not Call" directory before 1 January 2005 to prevent your number from being provided to telemarketers: False.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2004]
A directory of cell phone numbers will soon be published for all consumers to have access to. This will open the doors for solicitors to call you on your cell phones, using up the precious minutes that we pay lots of money for. The Federal Trade Commission has set up a "do not call" list. It is called a cell phone registry. To be included on the "do not call" list, you must call from the number you wish to register.
The number is 1-888-382-1222 or you can go to their website at http://www.donotcall.gov
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 plans pay for your incoming calls. These telemarketers will eat up your free minutes and end up costing money. According to the National Do Not Call List, you have until Dec 15, 2004 to get on the national "Do Not Call List" for cell phones. You can either call 1-888-382-1222 from the cell phone that you wish to have put on the "do not call list" or you can do it online at http://www.donotcall.gov
Registering only takes a minute, is in effect for 5 years. All of you will need to register before Dec 15. You may want to also do your own personal cell phones.
Origins: As the use of cellular telephone technology has grown tremendously in the last several years, many consumers have given up maintaining traditional land-line phone service entirely. They Cell phone prefer the convenient portability of cell phones, as well as the privacy: So far, cell phone numbers have generally been excluded from printed phone directories and directory assistance services, and protections have been put in place to restrict telemarketing calls to cell phones.
Soon, however, some of the privacy that cell phones provide may be eroded. Six national wireless companies (AllTel, AT&T Wireless, Cingular, Nextel, Sprint PCS, and T-Mobile) have banded together and hired Qsent, Inc. to produce a Wireless 411 service. Their goal is to pool their listings to create a comprehensive directory of cell phone customer names and phone numbers that would be made available to directory assistance providers. (In most places, telephone users can call directory assistance at 411 [for local numbers] or by dialing an area code plus 555-1212 [for out-of-area numbers] and, by providing enough information to identify an individual phone customer [usually a full name and city of residence], obtain that customer's phone number.
Many cell phone customers are opposed to the proposed Wireless 411 service for a number of reasons:
* They prefer the privacy of knowing that their cell phone numbers are available only to those to whom they provide them. They don't want other people being able to obtain their cell phone numbers without their consent or knowledge.
* They are concerned that their cell phone numbers will be sold to telemarketers (or other groups that might make undesirable use of those numbers).
* They see one of the goals of the Wireless 411 service as a ploy to spread cell phone numbers to wider circles of friends and acquaintances, who will then place calls to cell phones and thereby force cell customers to pay for additional wireless minutes.
The wireless companies behind the proposed Wireless 411 service contend that their service will be beneficial to cellular customers and that they have addressed those customers' major concerns:
* The service would save money for the estimated five million customers who use only cellular phones and currently pay to have their cell phone numbers listed in phone directories.
* The Wireless 411 service would be strictly "opt-in" — that is, wireless customers will be included in the directory only if they specifically request to be added. The phone numbers of wireless customers who do nothing will not be included, those who choose to be listed can have their numbers removed from the directory if they change their minds, and there is no charge for requesting to be included or choosing not to be included.
* The Wireless 411 information will not be included in printed phone directories, distributed in other printed form, made available via the Internet, or sold to telemarketers. It will be made available only to operator service centers performing the 411 directory assistance service.
Nonetheless, many consumers don't trust the Wireless 411 consortium to uphold their promises, and although Qsent and its clients plan to make the Wireless 411 service available sometime in 2005, its implementation in that time frame is far from certain, as the wireless companies are still fighting proposed legislation which seeks to regulate wireless phone directories.
So, although the gist of the message quoted at the head of this page is correct in alerting consumers to a proposed directory of cell phone numbers, it is misleading in stating that such a directory will "soon be published" (the word "published" implies making a printed directory available, which the wireless consortium maintains they will not do) and in directing readers to sign up with the The National Do Not Call Registry. The latter step will not keep wireless customer listings out of the proposed Wireless 411 database — it will only add their phone numbers to a list of numbers off-limits to most telemarketers, a step which is premature (because the Wireless 411 directory has not yet been implemented) and largely unnecessary (because the Wireless 411 directory information is not supposed to be supplied to telemarketers, and because FCC regulations already in place block the bulk of telemarketing calls to cell phones).
Some versions of the exhortation to cell phone users to add their names to the Do Not Call Registry erroneously state there is a 15 December 2004 deadline for getting listed. Says Lois Greisman, the Federal Trade Commission official who oversees the anti-telemarketing registry: "There is no deadline; there never has been a deadline to register."
However, belief that there might be such a cut-off coupled with the e-mailed alerts themselves have served to multiply many times over the number of registrations. Since the initial wave of sign-ups following the 2003 launch of the list, registrations have come in at the rate of 200,000 new numbers a week. Yet in the final week of November 2004, nearly 1 million new subscribers were added, and in the first week of December 2004, that figure jumped to 2 million. At this point in time, 69 million phone numbers are contained in the registry.
Adding one's cell phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry (even if currently unnecessary) won't likely have any adverse effect, but customers should be aware of exactly what that action will or will not accomplish.