TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (Celling Your Soul)

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (Celling Your Soul)

Marcus Didius Falco (
Fri, 10 Dec 2004 22:59:59 -0500

Claim: A directory of cell phone numbers will soon be published.
Status: Multiple see below.
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

The number is 1-888-382-1222 or you can go to their website at


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 .

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 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).

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.

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

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.

Additional information:<>
<> Wireless 411 Service: Q&A =
Privacy and the Wireless 411 Service (Qsent)

Last updated: 10 December 2004

The URL for this page is

Urban Legends Reference Pages copyright 1995-2004
by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson
This material may not be reproduced without permission.

Sources: Dalton Jr., Richard J. "FCC Warns Telemarketers Against
Calling Cell Phones."
Contra Costa Times. 20 November 2003.

Mayer, Caroline. "Bogus E-Mail Worries Users Of Cell Phones."
The Washington Post. 10 December 2004 (p. E1).

Stinnett, Chuck. "Wireless Phone Privacy."
The [Henderson] Gleaner. 14 November 2004.

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