Are Cell Phone Numbers "Going Public" This Month?

Do you really need to add your mobile number to the Do Not Call List?

Unhappy woman on smart phone
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Description: Internet rumor
Circulating since: September 2004
Status: Mostly false

Viral messages warn that a directory of cell phone numbers will soon be published and consumers should dial 888-382-1222 to list mobile numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry to prevent telemarketing calls.

As shared on Facebook, December 2, 2011

REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month.

REMINDER... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222 . It is the National DO NOT CALL list It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

HELP OTHERS BY PASSING THIS ON. It takes about 20 seconds!

Email example, December 9, 2004

Subject: Fwd: Cell phone telemarketing

Thought you guys could use this information!!

PASS IT ON!!!

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

Registering only takes a minute, is in effect for 5 years and will possibly save you money (definitely frustration)! Make sure you register now!


Analysis

This online rumor has been circulating continuously since September 2004. Despite a very small grain of truth at its core, it's mostly false, outdated and misleading.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Yes, you can add your cell phone number(s) to the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • No, you won't suddenly be at the mercy of 10,000 telemarketers if you don't.
  • Contrary to what's claimed, cell phone numbers are not about to "go public."

Background

It's true that a little over a decade ago some of the major wireless providers announced a plan to establish a universal cell phone directory, but the plan did not consist of simply publishing everyone's cell phone numbers for the world to see, nor were the numbers to be "released to telemarketers" as claimed above. The directory was to be made available only via telephone, only to those who dialed directory assistance and paid a fee, and only with individual wireless customers' consent.

The point has been moot since 2006, when the plan to create a wireless telephone directory was permanently shelved. I'm not aware of any similar proposals currently in the works.

Do Not Call Registry

The Federal Trade Commission does allow mobile phone users to add their numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry (the same one already in force for home phones), by either registering online or calling 1-888-382-1222. It may not be necessary — per FCC regulations, telemarketers are already prohibited from using automatic dialers to call up mobile phones — but millions have signed up to ensure they're protected from unwanted calls, and so can you.

Contrary to what is stated in most variants of the rumor, there is no 31-day, 16-day or 8-day deadline for adding cell phone numbers to the Do Not Call list — indeed, there is no deadline at all.

More Info from the Federal Trade Commission